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Designing The Client Experience For Your Services

When I had the idea to build a tool for selling productized services I knew the user experience had to be great - both for our customers and, more importantly, for their clients.

After all, if we're going to be handling the checkout flow, it has to be optimized for maximum conversions.

Now, unlike a traditional services model where you're dealing with custom quotes, proposals and invoices, customers already know exactly what they're getting and at what price.

So if you break it down, the process from start to finish involves four parts:

1. service selection
2. project information
3. payment
4. communication / delivery

This is a story of how we put them together...

Starting simple

SPP checkout flow

If less steps = more conversions (not always true) then the best option was letting clients choose a service on the sales page and redirecting them directly to PayPal. No extra steps - plain and simple.

Only two issues with this setup:

1. Lack of transparency. To set up customer accounts in the Client Portal, we had to either ask for signup before checkout (far from ideal, breaks the flow), or create accounts based on customer's PayPal information. That caused problems as people didn't know they were getting an account or preferred to use a different contact information.

2. Lack of trust. Turns out, buyers in our industry are used to filling out lengthy forms with details about their projects before actually proceeding to checkout. So going directly to payment without providing any information seemed off to some of them.

For that reason, we decided to go with a more traditional sales funnel setup similar to tools like Wufoo.

Launching order forms

SPP checkout card flow

What started as a simple way to offer a few different services on one page ended up being one of the most complex parts of our system that also has to integrate with a payment gateway. A few of the things we had to deal with included:

  • Service quantities

  • Coupons and discounts

  • VAT / taxes

  • Fields for project information

  • Different payment methods

  • Multi-page forms

  • Terms and conditions

  • Rules for showing and hiding fields

  • Being able to edit underlying HTML and more

The initial release had exactly 0 of these features. But we kept working on updates and eventually made a pretty flexible system that is now an essential part of the client experience.

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Some iterations of the order form design.

Experimenting with a shopping cart

For a brief period a few releases ago, SPP also had a shopping cart module. You could click on links to add items to cart and then proceed to checkout - typical stuff.

Now, most of our users don't have an inventory of hundred different services that they offer. In fact, many of them don't even sell through a website. So for those reasons, adoption of the shopping cart module wasn't great.

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Also, the fact that the cart itself was pretty limited when you compare it to traditional shopping carts. For those who wanted a full on shopping cart system OpenCart or similar tools were a better alternative.

The client portal

This is where customers can track their orders, get the latest updates and send messages. Every customer gets an account in the client portal software, whether they sign up or not. Because it's super easy for people to come back and purchase more services with fewer clicks, that in turn increases your client lifetime value and loyalty.

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Now, if you've seen conversion rate studies like these, you know that requiring customers to sign up for an account before checking out can hurt sales.

So instead we opted for a more streamlined way to deal with accounts.

For starters, you can add name, email and password fields to your forms (not visible for logged-in users). If the form didn't have a password field, we create the account with a default password. And if the form had none of these fields, we use the info from customer's payment method.

Lots of ifs there, but at the end of the day it makes for a setup that can be highly customized to fit different needs.

We’re just getting started

By all means, this isn't the final version of our checkout process, and it is still very much a work in progress.

As I talk to more and more customers, I still keep discovering new things every day. After all, the only way to survive in this ever-changing industry is by constantly adapting to users' needs and expectations.

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