Customer Service for Freelancers [Freelance Friday]
As freelancers, we are in sales. Regardless of your field, you still need to find customers for your freelance business.
To do that, you will not only need to be good at your craft, you will need to be able to sell yourself, your service or your product to the potential customer. Part of the sales process is customer service. As a freelancer, the after sale customer service is extremely important. Some would say customer service is the most important part of the sale.
Here are a few things you may do to hinder your customer service efforts. I have taken a few things I have seen or have done myself and made them into examples of things to avoid when providing any form of customer service to your freelance customers.
The fuck you look
I know you have all seen and maybe even given this look. It’s the look you give when you are really busy and someone interrupts your work groove to ask you the dumbest series of easily answered questions ever. With your eyes, you say “Fuck you!”, while your mouth spits out the shortest possible answer in the hopes they will see your eagerness to end the conversation and get back to your work.
A smile goes a long way towards making the customer feel at ease. People like to do business with people they like. The more pleasant you are, the more they will look forward to dealing with you.
Dumbest person ever
This one isn’t always intentional. If you are in a techy business, you will likely deal with a great many people who don’t grasp technology well. By assuming a certain level of knowledge, you can easily make your freelance customers feel like an idiot.I
I had a difficult customer a while back. He was he was having an issue with his Blackberry. He arrived from home from a late flight and went straight home and to bed. Well, the next day he couldn’t get his Blackberry to turn on. On his way back to the office, he stopped by to see me.
He explained the scenario to me and handed me the phone. I pressed the power button to see if it was something super simple. (You’d be surprised how many times people don’t think to turn on their phone when it goes dead and recharged!) The next step was to try a new battery. When I popped the back off the phone, there was no battery in it! The look on his face said it all.
Instead of laughing at him, I offered to sell him a new battery. I told him it was a good idea to have a spare with as much as he travels. That way he will always have a charged battery if he needs it. He called back later that day and thanked me for not making him feel like an idiot. He now refers all of his friends and business partners to me.
Their problems aren’t important
Everyone values different things. What is important to you might be very insignificant to me. Remember, it isn’t about you.
You are there to solve their problems.
Listen to what their business problems are. Your freelance customers want to know what you can do for them. You are meeting with them. You need to give them a realistic solution to cure what ails them. In many cases, people will tell you exactly how to solve their problem if you listen. Many times they know what they need but may not have the means to solve the problem. A bit of patience is sometimes the best customer service solution.
Take some time and ask them some probing questions. While they are answering the questions take notes.
Don’t send me hate mail for this next part…
Many times the gender of the client can shape how you ask the questions. What I mean is when dealing with a female clients many times understanding how they feel about the problem they are trying to solve may better help you with the solution.
The more you talk, the more they will feel like you are jumping to conclusions and generalizing their problems. They want a personalized solution… so give them one.
If you win the argument, you will win the sale
If you are a competitive person, it is difficult to back down, even if you know you are right. If you want their business, it is better to ask questions then tell them what they need.
What are your customer service tips for a busy freelancer?