Posted by Vicki Moulton on March 4, 2011
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend toward rudeness among business contacts, and it’s time to stand up and say something about it.
Would you expect a client to wait more than 30 minutes for you to show up to a meeting? How about a good friend or maybe a member of your family? It’s considered good manners, and good business, to show up on time to your appointments. If you are unavoidably detained–accident on the highway, family emergency, stuck in another meeting–then at least send an email or a text message comunicating the delay. Don’t just leave your client, vendor, or friend twisting in the wind, wondering what the hell happened to you.
I’m not the most punctual person in my personal life, it’s true. If you are one of my friends and we plan to meet for coffee, I am likely to be running about 5 minutes late (or more, now that I have a new baby). But I do not show up late for business appointments or conference calls. I am prompt and professional enough to expect the same from my clients and associates. Making someone wait more than half an hour to hear that you’re running late is just rude. And if you’re the client, and you do this repeatedly, you should expect to be billed for that time.
Just because you run a small business does not make your time any less important or valuable than your client’s or colleague’s time. Be clear about your expectations for professionalism, and your reputation will reflect that. And if your reputation is solid, that’s great PR for your business.
Posted in communications | Tagged: clear expectations, client, communications, customer service, great PR, late for meeting, professionalism, punctual person, reputation, rude behavior, small business | 2 Comments »
Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 19, 2011
Most of us could whip out a story about a bad customer service experience at a moment’s notice. But when was the last time you told a friend about a company that provided really good customer service?
Here’s my happy-ending story about customer service.
A cute top I ordered online for my daughter arrived in the mail last week. She wore it for a few hours, and then I noticed that two of the five unique flower appliques that made the shirt so fashionable had fallen off. They were ironed on rather than sewn on, and the idea that something so flimsy had been passed off as great workmanship made me want to give the company a piece of my mind.
So I went to the website, searching for some kind of complaint forum, maybe an online comment form or something. I found the name, email address, and direct phone number for the customer service manager (and thought, wow, that’s unusual). I sent a message detailing what happened; this was during a three-day weekend.
Within a couple of days, I got a return email with an apology and a request for a photo of the shirt to see whether it was still in stock. (The photo I sent is included in this post.) Another email included a request for my address (I had purchased it through a third-party website). I replied with an email asking whether it would be safe to put this replacement shirt with the iron-on appliques in the washing machine. The reply I got stunned me: the replacement shirt we would receive, free of charge, no merchandise return required, would be specially prepared for me to avoid this problem happening again (hello needle and thread!).
Not only did this manager provide the right kind of customer service–solving my problem without making it seem like I did something wrong–she also went above and beyond my expectations by doing something special just for my circumstance, without my even asking for it.
This got me thinking… How often we forget that our clients are people too. Nobody likes to be treated like their problems don’t matter. If you’re the one who caused the problem, making it right is your responsibility. And if you can go that extra mile to ensure complete customer satisfaction, you’ll safeguard your company brand for the next client. That’s just smart business.
Posted in marketing | Tagged: applique, brand, client, complaint, customer service, MarComm, small business, solving the problem, website | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 17, 2010
I received some unexpectedly enthusiastic feedback from a new client today. I didn’t count the number of exclamation points after the word “spectacular,” but there had to be at least 10. Now that’s a happy client!
As I was posting that nice comment on my Testimonials page, it got me thinking about how hard it can be sometimes to believe it–to truly accept it–when someone compliments your work.
We women tend to downplay compliments in general, and that can spill over into our business lives. It’s never smart to walk around like a proud peacock 24×7, bragging about how awesome you are. And neither is it smart to disagree with someone who takes the time to tell you that you’re awesome. It’s always better to make an attempt at accepting compliments graciously–even if it doesn’t feel right, act the part.
Take a moment to think of yourself as worthy of a nice compliment. Allow yourself to let that feeling wash over you. Remember it the next time you hear someone says something nice about you, and be gracious.
Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing | Tagged: accepting compliments, client, communications, customer service, enthusiastic feedback, happy client, proud peacock, relationships, small business, Testimonials | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Vicki Moulton on October 12, 2009
When you run a small business, especially during a recession, it’s tempting to set your prices on the lower end of the spectrum to attract more customers. But that strategy is sending the wrong message about how your services should be valued.
Here’s an argument all freelancers and small business owners might want to consider, from SmallBizTrends “Best-Kept Marketing Secrets: Editor’s Picks”:
“While important, the price we ask for a product or service is far less important than you might think. Our customers want value. They are paying for solutions. They expect results and they are not put out by paying a fair price to get what they need. We entrepreneurs are often guilty of prematurely lowering our prices, perhaps out of a sense of fear or perceived competition. We need to be in the practice of adding so much value that our customer does not even blink at our price. We must learn to present our expected price with confidence, without flinching.”—Daniel Sitter, Idea Seller
Posted in marketing | Tagged: customer service, freelance, pricing, promotion, recession, small business, value | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Vicki Moulton on July 7, 2009
My business cards are finally on their way to the printer, in perfect alignment, redone for free by the same company that screwed them up the first time. The company in question is the new Kinko’s, now called FedEx Office.
All it took was five fruitless phone calls to customer service (all of which ended with them saying I had made the error), one fruitless store visit, lots of complaining and gnashing of teeth, and then, this morning, one quick and easy phone call to the corporate office in Texas (followed by two calls with the production customer service person, Richie, who was incredibly friendly, professional, apologetic, and helpful).
Me: “Customer service supervisor, please… Hello? I hope you can help me… Here’s my problem… [blah blah blah...]“
Supervisor: “My name is Ginger, and sure, I can fix that for you. No problem.”
Me: “Really? That’s great! Thank you!”
Supervisor: “Here’s my direct number and my email address. Be sure to send me your order confirmation. I will personally review your file before it goes to print to make sure we don’t have the same problems with visible crop lines again, then I will refund your money for the second order.”
Me: “Whew, thanks so much, Ginger!”
And to think, I was just about to blast FedEx Office (now partnered/merged with VistaPrint, by the way) all over the blogospere. They really dodged a bullet by solving my problem on the spot!
After that, a quick call to my designer Jenny got me a new PDF (no crop marks) ready for uploading. Boom, just like that, no more stressing out. (Think I’ll go for a run later to make sure the stress is really gone!)
Posted in communications | Tagged: business cards, communications, customer service, FedEx Office, Jenny Ness, Kinko's, logo, publish, small business, VistaPrint | 1 Comment »
Posted by Vicki Moulton on July 3, 2009
My new business cards, the ones I ordered online, meticulously cropped to make sure they would look perfect in print, arrived a couple of days ago… with the crop marks showing, as though I had never touched the file.
After trying to get them fixed in person and then by phone—having learned to my horror that the online printer I chose is an all-automated, no-human operation—I am now forced to wait until after the holiday weekend to get them fixed, reprinted, and reshipped. Here’s the incredibly lame reason: customer service gets the day off, even though it’s not really a holiday until tomorrow.
Not that I will need business cards this weekend, as I have no plans to attend any business functions. But, seriously… Why must it be so difficult to get a human being involved in solving an online problem? For crying out loud… ARGH!!!
So now comes the part where I explain how I’m “making peace” with this situation. I would love to say that I’m so zen that this doesn’t ruffle my feathers one bit. But since I’ve already said “argh” in this post, with several exclamation points no less, the jig is up. Deep breath… Reboot… Move on to another task. The weekend will be over before I know it.
There. That’s a peaceful thought. I can go along with that.
Posted in communications | Tagged: automated, business cards, customer service, frustration, holiday, online printer | Leave a Comment »