I looked long and hard for a client management software that fit my needs and was within my price range. For two years of my business, I did without because I couldn’t find something that worked with my process. Then I found Dubsado and I fell in love.
Now this post isn’t about Dubsado – although you should check it out – but about why I decided to sign up with them so quickly. Because it wasn’t the normal reasons I choose a service – I had a system that was working for me and my clients – but because when I signed up for an introduction webinar to walk me through setting up my account, it was led by Becca Berg, one of the creators of Dubsado.
And not only did she lead the webinar, but Becca and her husband Jake are also the people you hear from when you ask for help (in their Facebook group or the Help Center). It was the amazing customer service that I received right from the start that sold me – and reminded me how important serving my clients well really is.
Your Clients are the Basis of Your Business
Whether you’re running a service- or product-based business, your clients are the reason you’re in business. They are the ones who see your talent and recognize that they need you to help them. And they’re the ones how will help your business grow – through referrals, reviews, testimonials, and just sharing about you.
But that means that your clients are also the ones who can bring your business down if you aren’t delivering what you promised. (That sounds ominous, but it doesn’t have to scare you.)
Of course, you will never be able to please everyone. We all have customers who won’t be happy no matter what we do, but if you have a solid base of fans, those few negative voices won’t have nearly the impact you’re afraid they will.
Serving Well Comes before Making Money
My clients are important to me – which is why I’m so passionate that serving them well is more important than making a huge profit. (Plus, clients who enjoy working with you will be happy to pay you.)
Yes, there are those who make lots of revenue with not-so-good customer service, but those are usually short-term gains, especially online where there are so many services to choose from. When a business gets a reputation for treating their clients badly, it spreads quickly and can ruin a small business.
The good news is that great customer service will lead to profitability in your business – but it shouldn’t be your main focus.
Balancing Serving Well and Setting Boundaries
Here’s the problem that most small business have when it comes to providing great customer service – we don’t know where (or how) to draw the line between going above and beyond for a client and being taken advantage of.
Good customer services sets boundaries so that you can do your best work and your client knows what to expect. You can start by setting these boundaries early and continue to reinforce them throughout your time with a client so that you can avoid issues down the road. Consider making your boundaries clear in these areas:
- On your website
- In your welcome documents
- In your contract
- In your emails (signatures are great for this)
Not sure what kinds of boundaries you should be setting with clients? This is a good place to start:
- Hours of availability
- Types of communication (don't give out your cell phone number unless you want clients to text you)
- Number of revisions
- Non-refundable deposits
- Consequences for client not following through
- Consequences for you not following through
- How and when you get paid
- Scope of work
- How to hire you for additional work
You’ll add your own boundaries as you work with clients and find areas in your business that need to be protected. (For more about setting boundaries, check out this episode of the Being Boss podcast.)
Find a Service Focus
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to be the best at every part of customer service (don’t you wish that was possible), so choose what areas of customer service you will focus on (this will depend on how you like to work and who your dream client is).
- Extras and gifts
- Working hand-in-hand with clients
- Becoming friends with clients
- Connecting people
Your service focus is how you’re going to stand out from the crowd and find your dream clients – because they need exactly what it is that you’re going to help them with.
But remember that even if you focus on serving in one area of business, there are still things that must be done well, no matter the client or business. Efficiency, communication, knowledge, leading your clients, and meeting your commitments are the basis of great customer service and are non-negotiables. (You wouldn’t believe the number of clients who tell me that their previous designer took their money and totally disappeared on them.)
As you become known for your customer service, people will want to share your work to their friends. And when difficult times come – when you might fall behind or miss an email – clients are more likely to be understanding because they know it’s out of character.
To-Do for You: Evaluate your current customer service and see what areas you could improve. Then find ways - like automation and templates - to make that as easy as possible.
* If you're interested in trying Dubsado, you can get started for free. Then, if you love it, get 20% off your first month or year using the code lemon (and I get a free month as well)! I wouldn't recommend it, if I didn't love it.
Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family. I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.