Throughout my life, there were times when I felt disappointed or swayed by a place of business or person I hired. Did I return or use their services again? In most cases, no. They showed no consideration or appreciation of my patronage and a few of them are no longer in business.
Customer service is huge! The time for bypassing a customer, giving them attitude or rushing through their project is at an end. Thanks to social media, incompetent businesses can be outed quickly. But giving good service shouldn’t just be about staying out of trouble – it should be the goal that is strived for with every client.
Taking the time to make these three practices a natural habit with every new client will always place your business at the top and ensure a healthy and progressive working relationship from beginning to end.
Expectation is everywhere – relationships of every kind have some sort of expectation attached to them. But when it comes to business, expectations must be set and understood prior to an agreement. This is easier said than done because you cannot always be prepared or cover every detail of the business transaction, but you must try.
When I first started my business I was told that contracts, estimates and proposals were a waste of time. While I do agree they are a waste of time before a client shows genuine interest, writing estimates for my clients have been a sure way of communicating exactly what the expectations are. I try to carefully detail exactly what I will be doing if they hire me and invite them to ask questions if they are confused. And along with my list of do’s, I also include some don’ts. I don’t provide photographs, I don’t work outside of this contract, I don’t – whatever. This is on a case-by-case basis, but I make sure to be as clear as possible so when the relationship begins, we are on the same page.
Quite similar to expectation, communication is vital in working relationships and it’s something I work on daily. Ask yourself – do you answer emails within 24 hours, are you able to approach a client if there is a disagreement or confusion over something? Does your client feel that they can be open with you?
Just as important as communicating with a client, is leaving the door open for them to communicate with you. They may have concerns, needs or be unfamiliar with the process you are undergoing together. It’s important to be sensitive to these needs and make them feel comfortable. In the end, any open relationship where honesty is shared is a successful one.
Time is the most valuable asset we have, but we don’t have much of it. It is easy to get caught up in the rigamarole of work, family, life and think that a client doesn’t need your time, but it is essential, especially in the beginning.
My social media marketing clients generally sign up for a specific amount of time that I will work for them per week. But usually that amount doubles, if not triples, within the first month as I am becoming familiar with their business, industry and nuances. It takes time to get accounts set up correctly and moving in the right direction, and that’s before the real marketing even begins. But it’s worth it, because the foundation must be built in order for the account to grow.