It’s a no-brainer that providing excellent customer service is crucial to the growth of your business. But, have you considered how your level of customer service relates to the amount of fun you have working with some clients? You likely aren’t as attentive to the ones who drive you crazy.
The truth is, finding clients who are a good fit with your work style will maximize your revenue. It’s all about attracting the right clients.
I know it’s difficult enough for creatives to find new customers these days, so you want to hang onto the ones you have. You end up putting more time and energy into the wrong types of customers, which takes away opportunities to get more business from the ones you enjoy working with.
If this issue that has come up for you, I recommend you establish a customer service policy.
As you take your business to the next level, one of the first things to examine is the type of customer experience you provide. Think through the service you are offering: What is included? Do you offer any type of guarantee? What are your terms for timing and delivery? Also consider how you can cover yourself in case of a delay or if someone simply makes a mistake. Do you have a back-up plan when things who awry?
Customer service also means clearly establishing financial terms. Are you asking for an advance? When do you want to be paid? What payment methods do you accept? Are there penalties for late payments and rewards for early payments?
It is very important that you write down your way—your policy—of doing business. Work with the terms and wording until you feel comfortable with the way your business operates.
Managing expectations is vital for good client relations. Let me give you an example: A few weeks ago, one of my coaching clients asked how I was tracking her progress. At first I was annoyed and sensed she might be testing me, but then I realized she was offering me an opportunity to be a better coach. I created a spreadsheet that tracks her accomplishments, and I can use it for other clients too. That was easy! When your clients know what is going to happen and when to expect it, you create excellent relationships and have clients who are fun to work with!
For chronically difficult clients who are never pleased, give yourself a reality check. Are you properly compensated for the extra time and trouble? Consider these questions:
- Is the client effectively costing you more in time than you make in money?
- If you invest the time you spend dealing with this client into networking efforts instead, could you find new clients and build better relationships?
- Is the aggravation this client causes you so toxic that you would be better off health-wise if you decline their next request?
- Does the money you make with this client offset the agony you endure?
Here is an article from the PhotoBizCoach site with great customer service examples that will keep your worthwhile customers coming back.
Once you manage expectations, it’s only a few short steps from asking your happy clients for referrals. Don’t be afraid to be direct. “Do you know of anyone who can benefit from what I am offering you?” People in the same industry, even if they work at different companies, often socialize together. If they say no to your request, you are no worse off than before. But if they say yes—just imagine what may come your way!