As a website developer, one of my main selling points is my customer service promise. Actually, it’s one of the main reasons I got into the industry.
What I think often gets missed in a web developer’s toolbox is the ability to provide great customer service – in fact, it’s applicable to any industry. Having spoken to a lot of people prior to starting my business, they were really negative about their experience with web developers regarding communication and support.
Being great at your job and running a successful business is not just about your technical expertise and knowledge. If you don’t take care of your customers, you’ll be really frustrating to work with.
Yes, you may know how to do a great job, and you just want to get to work and focus on delivering great results. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually what the customer wants too.
However, imagine you are the customer. You hire a web designer to create a website for you – you pay them a deposit, and agree a delivery date. So far, so good.
Imagine that you then hear nothing from them before the delivery date. You then start to worry. “Are they actually doing my website? Will it be delivered on time? How’s it looking?” So, you shoot them an email to get an update. You hear nothing back, so you try calling. You get the answerphone and no call back.
How would you now feel? Anxious? Annoyed? Frustrated? All of the above? You bet! It’s the same with anything – imagine you order something online and you get no confirmation email or despatch notification… You start to wonder if it’s coming at all and it’s a stressful experience.
Now, let’s fast forward to the delivery date – you receive an email confirming the completion of your website and a link to view it. You click on the link and it looks fantastic – your worst fears were not confirmed. Brilliant – job done... or not.
Think about it – are you actually totally satisfied? Are you keen to work with the same developer again? I doubt it. Even though the end product is what you wanted, you didn’t have a great experience along the way and it was very taxing – you don’t need that in your life.
Now, you may think you don’t have the time to respond to the emails and calls your clients send – it will delay your project and then your customer will be annoyed if you don’t deliver on time.
However, the foundation of any successful business is retaining clients and building solid relationships with them for ongoing business. Responding to emails and requests in a timely fashion is part of building this relationship.
A great way of satisfying this need for communication without taking up too much time is to set up an autoresponder or ticketing system for inbound emails that let’s clients know their request has been received and you will respond soon. You can specify a certain time to respond personally within – alter it depending on how busy you are. There are plenty of plugins that will achieve this for you.
Now the customer knows their request has been received and has an idea of when to expect a response, and you didn’t have to stop to write that email. Problem solved… just make sure you actually respond within your set timeframe.
Also, encourage customers to group multiple requests into one email – this means you can deal with all issues at once, and they get all their answers together.
Better still, if you want to really impress your customers – don’t let them come to you. Beat them to it with regular updates on their project. It doesn’t have to be much – just a few lines of what work has been completed or a link to a page you’ve completed/are working on.
This is something customers will really appreciate and will take the stress out of the project for them. It also gives them the opportunity to have their input as you go along and steer the project in the direction they want.
This can actually save time, as it saves the awkward moment where you deliver a project and the customer wants lots of alterations made to the look, feel and functionality of it. It becomes more of a collaboration, which is always a better way to work and build a rapport with your clients.
Feel free to share your expertise with the client along the way too if you disagree with some of their suggestions – after all, that’s why they hired you, for your input. You don’t have to blindly take directions from them if you feel it will negatively affect the impact of their website. As long as you explain the reasoning behind your decisions, they will appreciate your knowledge – always relate your decisions to the goals of the project that the client outlined to you. That is something they can relate to.
If you follow this approach, you will come out with happier clients and earn repeat business, as people really value the experience of a project even more so than the final result. It’s the journey that really matters, not the destination.
Tom is a skilled Website Developer (he made this site for us!) who also has extensive management experience as the General Manager of Australian Training Resource Provider, RTO Materials. He's also an NCTJ-accredited journalist!
Tom has expertise in web design and development, content creation and people management. If you need a great website that works hard for your business at an affordable price, Tom's your guy!