Monday, January 18, 2010

How Far Do You Go to Provide Good Customer Service?

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about setting boundaries with clients to protect yourself from being taken advantage of. It’s an important aspect of business, but it really is a two way street. I think that customer service is an important value you can add to your business. It’s what makes some clients return again and again to work with writers with average skills let alone writers who know how to get results.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t always work on improving your skills as a writer. If you don’t provide value and results you won’t have very many clients anyway. But being a pleasure to work with is important too. My mother always said having a good attitude can open a lot of doors.

Now don’t confuse providing your clients excellent customer service with being a rug to be walked on. I’m talking about common sense gestures - the same ones we appreciate when paying for a service:

1) Be reliable. When I’m paying good money for something I expect reliability. If something goes wrong, I expect some empathy and an offer to make things right when possible. Do what you say you will when you say you will.

2) Be positive. Even if you only communicate with clients by email, you can still present a positive persona. Nothing irks me more than having to deal with a negative attitude when I’ve been nothing but nice. If you’re dealing with a crabby client, being friendly might help turn things around. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true: a positive attitude is contagious.

3) Anticipate your client’s needs. Many times the clients seeking our services are confused. They may be unable to clearly communicate what they need, or you may be able to help them achieve better results by offering additional services. This is not only good customer service, it also make you indispensable.


Lori said...

Super post (per usual). I turn it around - how would I expect to be treated? What would it take to keep me happy and coming back? Then I apply it.

I remember one of my first jobs on a local newspaper. The editor called me for job after job because, as she put it, "You're reliable." Okay, not exactly screaming "You're so talented!" but saying something about a part of the job that plenty of writers overlook.

Kimberly Ben said...

It's funny, Lori, I've also been praised for my reliability, and I find that odd. If you're looking to get paid why wouldn't you deliver a project as promised? It's a big part of the job.

Cheryl B said...

It's strange you write about this right now. It's what I've been thinking about using for my blog post this week. I think you learn a lot from serving clients that you can use in all relationships. Like you've both said, it boils down to treating others as you want to be treated.

Now if I could just write it -- and keep it short and sweet, just like you've done.


Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks, Cheryl. Please, by all means tackle this topic on your blog, and take your time saying exactly what you need to say.
I feel like this is important to note because some writers are actually losing out on business - not because they're unable to write effective content, but because they don't know how to give clients the experience of good customer service. Thankfully this can very easily be corrected.

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