We’re in the midsts of a revolution.
The companies, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who are winning are the ones who deliver exceptional support, service, and experiences.
Just look at Uber. They were able to dominate the taxi industry by making it easier, cheaper, and faster to get around town… and being friendlier than most taxi drivers.
The same is happening in the freelance industry. Many of my clients came to me because their previous developers delivered horrible support.
I recently started a business that is all about delivering support, and I make sure we deliver exceptional customer service across the entire company.
So, between the freelance work I did, and the work I currently do at my service-based company, I have lived and breathed customer service.
I’m going to share with you the five most important tips to delivering amazing support so that you can implement them in your own business and impress your customers or clients.
(Please note: throughout this article, I use customer support, customer service, and customer care interchangeably)
1. Customers Don’t Remember What You Say Or What You Did… They Remember How You Made Them Feel
I borrowed this one from Levan Apriashvili who works in customer care at Siteground.
And it is the most important. If you have one takeaway from this article, it should be this point.
When customers have interactions with businesses, they rarely remember the specifics of what happened. They may remember bits and pieces of what happened or what was said, but the one thing that they leave with unquestionably is how they felt.
If a company made them feel bad, they’ll remember that and always have a distaste for that company. If they feel good, they will always have good feelings towards that company.
If you’ve ever dealt with a company like Zappos, you know what I’m talking about.
The rest of the points in this article are offshoots of this one point.
Everyone likes to be listened to.
In the customer support world, just listening to a customer can, most of the time, solve the problem then and there.
Too many businesses and freelancers have forgotten how to listen, and instead try to interject with boilerplate phrases.
When a customer knows you are listening to them, they feel better. But this requires active listening. Your customer needs to FEEL heard. If you want to improve, Open Forum has a great article on improving your listening skills.
Whenever I deal with a customer or client, the very first thing I do is ask them to explain what is going on. I repeat back to them and make sure I understand what the issue is. I then emphasize with them and reassure them that this problem will be solved.
You’d be surprised how many irate customers or clients have come to me, and just by listening, have calmed down. And after solving their problem, were ecstatic.
And yes, sometimes it will feel like you are a therapist.
3. Underpromise And Overdeliver
Hypothetical situation: you order something online and it ends up taking two weeks to receive it.
Which would you prefer:
- If the company said it was going to take one week
- If the company said it was going to take three weeks
Remember, it actually took two weeks to deliver in both situations.
The majority of people will choose option two.
No one likes to be told something will take a certain amount of time, or cost a certain amount, only to find that it is more.
But everyone loves it when it is done faster and cheaper than expected.
Sadly, many companies and freelancers want to impress clients by saying they can do something faster and cheaper than they actually can, only to leave the customer disappointed.
Instead, start to under promise and over deliver. You’ll be surprised how happy it leaves your customer.
4. Respond In A Timely Manner
Nobody likes to wait.
When it comes to customer support, the number one complaint most people have is that it takes too long to receive a response.
Now, what is considered a timely response? It depends on your industry and client expectations.
In the hosting industry, people expect their customer support to answer the phones in just a few minutes.
As a freelancer, though, I had a bit more leeway. Before beginning a project, I would tell my clients that they could expect a response in 1 – 3 days by email or phone call. And I stuck to that.
In my current business, we tell clients they can expect a response in 3 – 6 hours.
But (and here comes the overdeliver), almost every time we do it faster than we said.
5. Go Over And Above… But Don’t Go Crazy
Customers like it when companies and freelancers do things they weren’t expecting.
Amazon did this for me once. I had incorrectly ordered a book on Amazon and wanted to return it and get a new one. Amazon said, “You know what, keep the book you have, and we’ll send you the new one free.”
That one action made me an Amazon customer for life.
When I was a freelancer, if a client came to me with a small job, and they were a good client, I would do the job for free.
That being said, there is a fine line between going over and above and having clients take advantage of you.
For instance, in my new company, we had a customer sign up. They asked if we could do a host transfer for them. We usually charge extra for host transfers, which I told our customer. She said she was a bit short on funds and wouldn’t be able to afford it now, so we decided that we would do the transfer for free.
She was incredibly happy. And then she came back and asked us to transfer another of her sites for free as well. When we told her we would be unable to do another for free, she canceled her plan with us.
At that point, we realized that she was taking advantage of our generosity.
You will come across this more often than you think. Don’t let it affect your generosity with other clients. Just realize that there are certain clients and customers who will take advantage of you, and they aren’t worth keeping around.
Some people think customer support, service, or care is some kind of special art you need training for.
While it helps, I feel like it really comes down to one point… a lesson you were taught in kindergarten: Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Whenever I interact with a company or freelancer, I make notes about how they handle customer support. I then find ways to implement the good into my own business, and to avoid the bad.
Do you have any tips you’ve learned for delivering amazing customer service?