Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Customer Service is So Important for Freelancers

 The term customer service reminds me of wasted time spent on the telephone with some huge conglomerate that somehow messed up something I purchased. Right now I’m dealing with customer service for both my cable/TV company and my home/auto insurance. It’s infuriating.
But customer service isn’t just for big box stores and insurance agencies. It’s important to freelancers, too.
As consumers, we’ve become disenchanted with advertising and marketing of all sorts, having being duped, tricked or made to feel foolish on more than one occasion. The last true medium that holds sway is referrals from friends, colleagues, or online reviews from the likes of Yelp, AngiesList or TripAdvisor. —Matt Mickiewicz for Forbes.com
According to an American Marketing Association survey, 90% of consumers trust peer reviews and 70% trust online reviews. The author of this post is Matt Mickiewicz, the co-founder of 99designs. He offers three rules that small businesses (and freelancers) should follow to offer their clients great customer service.

If one of your clients has a complaint, handle it immediately and yourself. What I hate most about dealing with large customer service departments is that I have to be on the phone for long periods of time being shuffled from one person to another. It’s annoying! That’s why I like to buy services and products from local companies as much as possible—a face to face conversation or simple email or phone call to the owner usually clears up any situation.

Make your clients realize that by working with you, a freelancer, instead of a large agency or other business, that they are getting the best customer service possible. It’s one of the best ways for you to promote yourself over your competition. By dealing with issues swiftly, and not sweeping them under the rug, you are keeping your clients happy—and their happiness is money in your pocket.

If you have a client who has given you a ton of work, reward them! Send them a small thank you gift (like a gift card) or give them a discount on future services.

A happy client will most likely be easier to deal with if there is ever a dispute. Plus, your genuine gratitude towards their business will work wonders when someone asks them for a referral. Your client is more likely to refer you when they are happy and content with your services.
I had my personal cell phone number on sitepoint.com for 10-years (a site visited by more than 2.5 million people every month and ranked Top 1000 in the world), and was happy to answer more than 30 calls on Christmas Day, when a special deal we were running on the website went wonky. — Matt Mickiewicz
Sure, answering telephone calls on Christmas probably isn’t what you really want to do, but the mere fact that you are answering them is sending an important message to your clients—when there is an emergency, you are there for them—no matter what.

Put your email and telephone number out in the open. Have you ever visited a website where the contact information is hard to find? How trustworthy is that? And while I understand the purpose and ease of an online form to fill out, I hate doing them. It’s so much easier to just pick up a phone and call or send an email from my own mailbox.

Help yourself by offering amazing customer service and try some things above and beyond what you currently offer. Be sincere, available, and grateful and your clients will be more likely to tout your services to others.


View the original article here

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