Meryl's Notes Blog
Things wordy, geeky, and webby
Six Easy Ways to Keep Clients
by Meryl K Evans
I’ve used two web hosts since buying the meryl.net domain around 1995. The first charged a bit, had a lot of problems (email delivery and keeping the site up also known as server uptime) and provided subpar customer service. At the time, the rate was probably standard with fewer web hosting services and it being the earlier days of the Internet. (Yes, that is the old meryl.net logo here.)
Another web host came along that charged much less for more features than the original. Some people may not consider it the most powerful web host — it’s a smaller service than the biggies most small to medium businesses use. Because of excellent customer service, I signed up my nonprofit organization with the same web host. Eventually, someone else became the webmaster of that website and complained about the host. (I don’t remember the exact comment.)
Since using the phone through the relay service takes more time than a typical phone call, I prefer to submit questions and trouble tickets through an online system. This web host has that. And most of the time, I get a reply within an hour — regardless if I assign the item as low or high priority. Furthermore, the provider helped me with problems outside the scope.
Because of their superb customer service, I’ve stuck with them since 2003. Sure, it has occasional down time and sent a couple of messages elsewhere instead of my inbox. They’re ready to tackle and solve my problems quickly and efficiently. Like humans, companies are going to experience problems despite using the best quality products and services with a tight process in place.
Here are six easy ways to show the love to your clients and hold on to them:
- Promote. If a client writes an article, I’ll link to it from Twitter. If I hear a writer needs to talk to someone that my client fits? I forward that opportunity to the client. When a client in the email marketing business publishes a new issue, I link to the newsletter wherever appropriate. Another client offers free webinar, and I help spread the word.
- Remember. I wrote an article about a product the client sells. Weeks later, I come across a Lego-lized version of the same product. I shared that with the client who got a kick out of it. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s educational. It shows I care about them and want them to be successful.
- Listen. Sounds obvious, but freelancers might not understand the client’s request and start working on the project without understanding what the client said. It’s OK to ask for clarification. Better to ask and get it right the first time than produce something off target and have to do it again.
- Ask. After working with a client for little while, I ask for feedback. When requesting feedback, I let clients know they can be short or long as they want without taking up too much time. I ask one open-ended and one yes/no question: “What can I do to better serve you?” and “Are you happy with the work?” Asking also means probing to figure out what clients want. One way to do this is to ask for examples of what they like.
- Fix. You and I aren’t machines. We make mistakes. It’s how we handle those mistakes that makes a difference. Don’t charge or add a discount to the invoice to fix something. A simple and sincere apology may be all you can do.
- Thank. I wrote notes to clients using a cool invention known as a pen. This is one thing computers can’t replace and the reason why kids still need to learn cursive.
How do you keep your clients happy? Share a memorable customer service story where you were the customer. How about a story of how you helped a client?
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