7 Stages of a Client’s Journey (& Why You Need Systems for Each)

After she flew in for a VIP Strategy Day, my client and I sat down together to map out a series of email templates she could use to respond to inquiries about her work.

As a popular therapist with a growing practice, she got phone calls and emails all the time from people wanting to know things like…

Do you take my insurance?
Can you help me and my boyfriend?
Do you see people on Saturdays?
Could we get in this week?

But when she checked emails after a two week vacation, the sheer volume was overwhelming. And the thought of wading through them, writing one response after another after another, was exhausting.

How in the world could she ever get through them all?

She needed a system. 

Better Systems Mean Better Service.

Of course, you may think that she had nothing to complain about. How great it must be to have your phone ringing off the hook and your inbox filled with people who want to hire you.


And when you’re starting a business and getting your first few clients, yes, that’s true. But when things take off, and you have more than you can manage, it becomes a different matter entirely.

And yet, good customer service has to be a habit – even when the pace is fast and the demand high.

Systems make that habit easier to maintain.

Design Systems Around Your Client’s Journey.

When a client buys something from you, you’ve just entered a new stage of your relationship. But that relationship began way before that moment.

In fact, there are seven stages across the life cycle of a client’s work with you, and systems can make a help your business run smoothly in each.

Let’s take a look at each.

Stage 1: Encounter

This is when potential clients first become aware of you, though you may or may not be aware of them.

What kind of systems do you have in place to reach out to and connect with new prospects?

Do you have a blog and a system for writing and publishing? Do you have a system for writing warm letters or other routine marketing efforts? How about a template for following up after meeting someone at a networking event?

What systems do you have in place to help new folks become aware of you?

Stage 2: Inquire

At this stage, a potential client establishes contact, and expresses an interest in your product or services. This is like that first glance across a crowded room. It’s full of potential. :)

What do you do? And how do you do it?

Do you have a standardized way to respond to an inquiry? Do you have something to offer that would give them a sample of what it’s like to work with you?

This could be a valuable free offer they download from your website. It could be an email template that you send out with a personalized message. It could even be a phone script.

Stage 3: Intake

Things are warming up! Your prospect has taken a step closer towards working with you. This will look different in different businesses, but it is often the first paid or structured interaction they have with you.

This could be where you conduct an assessment, make a site visit, create a proposal, offer a special consult. It may be something you offer for free, or for a fee.

What kind of systems do you have in place to set up your offer and deliver at this stage?

Stage 4: Enroll

Congratulations! If the relationship gets to this point, things are moving along nicely.

This is when a prospect becomes a client. They like what they saw, heard, or experienced during the initial phase of your relationship, and they are ready to buy.

So what do you do now?

Do you have a system for collecting payment? For capturing key information? For getting the right signatures or paperwork in place? For initiating services?

Stage 5: Engage

Every stage of a client relationship is important. (Really – every stage.)

But this one is where it’s easiest to drop the ball. Ever heard a business make a promise about “service after the sale”?

That’s because far too often, there is no service after the sale.

And yet, this is when some of the best things happen with your clients.

What kind of systems do you have in place for building excitement? For creating engagement? For delivering on your promise? For tracking progress? For celebrating milestones?

Stage 6: Wrap Up

The length of time you’re involved with a client will vary widely depending on your type of business. But whether the relationship lasts a few hours or a few years, there will be a wrap up or closing stage sooner or later.

In some cases, it may be wrapping up a particular project or segment of service with a client who returns periodically. (For example, a lawn service that closes down in December and picks back up again in March.)

In others, it may be more of a true ending, such as a commissioned piece of art for a specific project.

Either way, the need is the same. Do you have a system for summarizing or highlighting the work that’s been done? For ensuring payments are complete, paperwork filed?

What about systems for sending a thank you, and capturing and storing testimonials?

Stage 7: Follow Up

Finally, you’ll also need systems for staying in touch even after a job is complete, because this is where the cycle begins all over again. :)

It takes less energy to keep a satisfied customer than it does to recruit a new one. So staying in touch in some way can often lead to repeat business. And having a system for tracking those touch points can make a big difference.

My point is this.

You will:

  • waste less time,
  • spend less energy,
  • make fewer mistakes,
  • miss fewer opportunities,
  • make more money and
  • better serve your clients

…when you have systems in place for each phase of your relationship with your peeps.

If this sounds overwhelming, I get it! Getting that kind of structure in place is one of the most common reasons that my clients reach out for coaching. 

But the more you can do this, the easier your life will be.

Just sayin’. :)

Start by mapping out each of these stages and what they look like in your business. What happens first? What happens next after that? And after that?

What can be automated? Repeated? Turned into a template? Systematized?

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