It’s an interesting topic to delve into, and I think you’ll discover that what you previously considered “good customer service” might not be good enough any more.
It’s almost become a cliche, hasn’t it? Seems like every website, television commercial, and even the sign hanging up at your local supermarket is declaring the business’s outstanding customer service policy.
But what does that really mean?
• That they smile when you walk in the door?
• That they flood your inbox with “special offers” just for you?
• Or that they offer a money-back guarantee?
Maybe all of those things. Or none of them. You see, the term “good customer service“ is pretty ambiguous. But if we can’t define it, how can we hope to accomplish it?
For newsletter publishers, good customer service is made up of several parts. Firstly, there is the part that you’re (hopefully) already doing. You’re hitting your deadlines on time and you are ensuring your newsletters are reaching your subscribers on time each month. You’re proofreading your work. You’re answering emails politely. And you’re acting in a professional manner. Then there are the things that are less concrete, but which can really make your customer say, “Wow! They’re fantastic!” They’re harder to define, but they’re the things that will get you noticed, remembered, and referred.
These are things like:
• Keeping an eye on industry news and forwarding interesting articles to your client
• Participating in social media campaigns by retweeting or liking Facebook fan pages
• Sharing content from within your circle of influence where appropriate.
Of course, that’s a simplistic view of good customer service. Now, let’s talk a bit about what you can do to ensure you’re always giving your customers the best possible service.
First, always keep the basics in mind:
1. Be polite.
From the first meeting to the final goodbye. There’s really no substitute for good manners.
2. Follow through.
If you promise to call a client back, send an email, or investigate a problem on or by a certain time, do it. The last thing you want is to earn a reputation of being unreliable!
3. Neatness counts.
Obviously, the work you turn in must be flawless, but try to keep all aspects of your business orderly. Invoice on time and without errors, and write grammatically correct emails.
4. Avoid being over-familiar.
Generally, there is still a difference between a client and a really close friend so make sure your correspondence and phone calls remain professional. Eventually, you might become close enough to exchange family stories and pepper your emails with a ‘LOL’ or emojis, but let them make the first move in that direction.
5. Don’t make excuses.
Your client doesn’t need to know (and doesn’t care) that you can’t make your deadline because your toddler is sick or your spouse lost his/her job. Simply ask for an extension if necessary, and leave out the details.
Then there are the more subtle ways you can earn a reputation for providing great customer service:
6. Stay in touch.
If you haven’t worked with a client in a while, why not drop an email just to see how their business is going? You’re not asking for work here, so don’t make it an “is there anything I can help with” email. Rather, just make it a polite inquiry and perhaps a note about a great video you saw that relates to their business.
7. Keep your client informed about upgrades.
If you do WordPress designs, a quick email to your list about important upgrades or new functionality lets your customers know you are focused on your industry. Add clients to your autoresponder to make this easier.
8. Offer referral fees.
Not only will it make your customers happy, but it will earn you more work as well!
9. Remember them on their birthdays and on holidays.
Even a short email to say ‘Happy Birthday’ is appreciated.
10. Send thank-you cards.
A hand-written note of thanks is a fantastic way to make a good impression.
And finally, if it does happen…
11. If you mess up, own up to it.
Trying to place blame elsewhere only makes you look worse. If your mistake costs your customer money, it’s your responsibility as a service provider to cover that expense – or at least offer to.