Poor customer service is a well-worn path that, more often than not, leads to diminishing returns and clients who are dissatisfied with work completed and less inclined to part with their hard-earned cash at the end of the day.
Don’t make that mistake, and don’t make excuses.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple things you can do in your business that are quick to implement, and which don’t require extra capital input—and by doing these, you’ll have happier clients who are far more willing to pay you for your services, come back for more and refer you to their networks.
Be available and accessible
Communication is key. Speak with your clients, meet with them, answer their calls and respond to their emails. Update them on progress and milestones, and if variations occur or unexpected things happen let your clients know so they’re kept in the loop.
If you can’t get work done on time, update your clients and take responsibility. More often than not, a client is going to appreciate that you’ve been upfront rather than kept them in the dark and wondering what’s going on.
Be transparent and manage expectations
It’s important to clearly establish at the outset what the expectations are in your relationship with your clients—both a client’s expectations of you, but also your expectations of the client (particularly if the client’s ongoing input is required).
Define timeframes, the anticipated scope of work and estimated fees, and continue to monitor these and update your clients if there are any significant changes. A client will be much more willing to pay you for your work if you notified him or her about that extra thing you had to do beforehand and of the additional cost involved, instead of if you’d forged on and expected them to pay you regardless.
Clients don’t have to be friends
Business is business. There will be clients who you get on with like a house on fire, but there will also be those who rub you the wrong way—we all have them.
Try not to let differences of opinion or personal views stop you from performing to your usual high standard and providing good customer service, especially for challenging clients. In fact, in these situations it’s even more important to get the little things right.
Some of your most profitable and rewarding clients may be difficult to work with at first, and may require some good old-fashioned elbow grease on your part to establish a solid, lasting relationship.
If you let your work ethic slip, you’ll lose business in the long-term. Remember—almost every successful business endures some short-term pain for long-term gain.
Find solutions to problems
Avoid confrontation with clients where possible and try to work with them to overcome any obstacles. They say the client is always right, and it’s important to bear this in mind. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and try to see things from his or her point of view.
Compromise if you can, even if you have to take a blow or a step back to take two steps forward with your client in the future. Again, it’s about focussing on your long-term success.
Don’t make it hard for clients to give you money—make them want to pay you, and keep coming back for more.
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