Freelancers and Customer Service

“Customer service” is more than just the company representative that you speak with when you need to return something, correct a mistake, or file a complaint.

In today’s world, customer service is a whole experience rather than just a simple transaction. If you are a freelancer or work remotely, customer service may be an afterthought. Although it’s certainly part of your work.

As a freelancer, you may have limited interaction with the outside world. But you are still expected to provide some level of customer service, regardless of how you work with clients  – phone, email, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.

Maybe you’re not exactly a “people person” and love the autonomy that comes from working remotely. That’s all well and good; you are still responsible for delivering a final product/service that your client will be happy with, which will ultimately determine if the client wants to work with you again. This means you may have to actually speak with them. So why not wow them with your commitment to their happiness?

Professionals with strong customer service skills cannot only secure new business but keep their existing client base coming back again and again. And who doesn’t love repeat business?

The following 11 customer service tips will help you build and maintain good working relationships with your clients regardless of their industry.

Freelancers and Customer Service- keep the customer happy

1. Go The Extra Mile

Every time—whatever that might look like. And we don’t mean only work efforts; know personal factors such as birthdays, children’s names, and other things special to your client such as wine choices, cars, running, etc. Be the freelancer your client can’t live without.

2. Exceed Expectations

One of the most effective ways to keep customers happy is to simply deliver what you promise, on time, and at or under budget. Why stop there? Find ways to go the extra proverbial mile for your client. Maybe it’s interviewing a great source for the article you’re working on. Maybe it’s developing an infographic to accompany the blog post you wrote.

Or maybe it’s making a suggestion for additional content or offering a solution to a challenge your client has been struggling with. Become a trusted member of the team and your client will come back to you for additional projects.

3. Be Prepared

Whether it’s an in-person meeting or a conference call, be ready to go when the discussion begins. Bring your ideas, handouts, samples of past work, progress reports, or whatever you are expected to have ready to share with the client. And always, always take notes and ask questions.

Time is everyone’s most precious commodity—don’t waste your time or the client’s looking for missing items or scrambling for ideas. And speaking of time—be prompt. A client’s lateness might be out of their control, but don’t keep them waiting.

4. Be Engaged

Do your homework prior to your first meeting with a potential client. What is the company’s mission? How can you help them accomplish that mission? What’s lacking in their marketing strategy and how will you help fill that gap? Jot down a few notes about the company and bring them to your meeting.

Ask your questions during your conversation, and get specific details about the project scope and the clients’ expectations so you know if there’s a mutual fit for the project.

5. Be Polite

If you work at home and have limited contact with other live beings, it can be easy to let social niceties slide a bit. Common courtesies go a long way when speaking with potential clients—thank them for meeting with you, offer a firm handshake if you’re going to an in-person meeting, and remember all those important little gestures that could set you apart from others. Be polite yet professional in all business dealings.

6. Be Good On The Phone

Always sound friendly, engaged, and ready to talk to your client, even if you’re not having the best day or the call had to be scheduled at a time you’d rather not think about due to the client being in a different time zone. This is especially important if you dislike talking on the phone. Since you can’t be seen, the client needs to hear some excitement in your voice.

7. Be Responsive

This is key to creating a strong rapport with clients. Return calls and emails promptly, provide periodic updates on your project and address any challenges or roadblocks you come across with the client as soon as possible.

Freelancers and Customer Service- build trust

8. (Don’t) Be Pushy

Always present a proposal or Scope of Work (SOW) outlining the project, timeframe for completion, and your fee. Present it to the client in person, allow time for questions, give them a few days to review and process what you’ve given them, and follow up approximately five days after your meeting. This shows you’re still interested in working with them, but not desperate to land the work. Clients do not like pushy salespeople or independent contractors.

9. Look Out For Your Client’s Best Interests

If you are hired as an independent contractor, your client’s best interest is your top priority. Always look for more effective and cost-efficient solutions to a problem or challenge you may face; the client ultimately has the final say on how they want to proceed, but give them a few options.

10. Meet With Them Face-To-Face (if you can)

If schedules and location allow, try to meet with the client face-to-face at least once during the course of the project. Virtual meetings are effective, but nothing establishes a solid working relationship like an in-person meeting.

11. Follow Up

Ask for feedback when you’ve completed the project. Many freelancers never know what becomes of a project after they hand it in, so ask. How was it received? What was great? What could’ve been better?

And ask the biggest question of all – “Is there anything more I can help you with?” Maybe not now, but remind them to keep you in mind for future projects.

How do you dazzle your clients? Are there any other customer service tips you can add?

 


 

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