Clients Are People, Too: Tips on Giving Better Customer Service in Your Biz
I first discovered Jess Freeman when I was the in the midst of building the Olyvia.co website + brand.
I took a glance at her biz website at www.jesscreatives.com and said to myself, “Now that is a woman who knows what she’s doing.”
(Go ahead. Look for yourself. You’ll see!)
It was #bizcrush from Day One, but back then I didn’t realize the full extent of Jess’ delightfulness online. Now, though, I have even more reason to admire her. That’s because over the last couple of years I’ve seen her not only exhibit the great online marketing savvy and design talent I first swooned over, but also something much rarer (and arguably more precious) in the small biz world:
Sincere, kind, and attentive service skills.
Even if you’ve only had the pleasure of interacting with Jess in the Facebook Groups she frequents, or chatted with her on Twitter, you, of course, already know this. Jess is one of those lovely humans that is just as wonderful in her private emails as her public posts.
In other words, she is the real deal.
What better person to talk customer service, then? She has plenty of tips + gems to share, and I’m eager to share them with you in this interview! Today Jess is sharing…
1. Why she feels client happiness is so important.
2. How working for someone else prepared her for serving clients in her own biz.
3. How she is “working herself out of a job” — and why she’s happy to do it.
4. How she messed up with a client…and what she did to fix it.
5. Why it’s crucial to remember that your clients are people, too.
…And so much more. 🙂
Please read on, then be sure to chime in with your answer to the question at the end!
1. Tell me a little bit about your business from a service perspective! Who do you serve? Why, specifically, do you feel that client/customer happiness is important to your brand?
I work primarily with new service-based entrepreneurs! In the entrepreneur world, I sadly see so many complaints and horror stories about people working with designers. Your brand and your website are such an essential part to growing your business, so it’s important to me that a customer is completely happy with both. When someone isn’t happy with the look of their brand, or comfortable with updating their website, I feel that can hold them back in business.
So, when I work with my clients, I make sure neither of these things happen! When they don’t have a stressful experience with their designer, or stress about their website, they can fully focus on their business and doing what they love.
To me, client happiness is important for two reasons. First, if we’re being honest, I’m a people pleaser. I can’t be perfect, but I try my hardest to make people happy because it makes me happy.
Second, if a client is unhappy with the project, there’s a chance that they would scrap all of my work and start over – which, selfishly, that means I just wasted a lot of my time – both mine and theirs!
2. How customer service savvy were you when you started your current online brand? Are there any particular experiences, resources, or tools that have helped you improve since then?
I had some basic customer service knowledge from prior job experiences, but nothing over the top. The years before I started working for myself, I worked at churches as a designer, and served several departments. Even though I had my boss, the different departments were like clients in a way! But, these are repeat clients… that are in the same building as you. Ha! So, client happiness was extremely important!
My dad has actually been a great resource for tips on customer service. He doesn’t own his own business, but he’s been a manager for 20+ years, and that experience provides some great insight! I’ve learned from several entrepreneurs over the last few years, too, especially your guides. 🙂
3. Could you tell me about a couple of small-but-mighty things that you try to do to make people happy about your brand and the services/products you provide?
I teach all of my web design clients how to use their website so they feel fully equipped. I know many entrepreneurs can’t afford to hire a designer for every little task. I also know that even if you have a great-looking website, it doesn’t matter if the content is totally out of date.
Many people have commented that I’m ‘working myself out of a job’ by doing that, but I think it’s the best way for me to serve my clients.
I also try to answer a lot of questions from followers/subscribers. I ask questions on social media, and ask my email subscribers to let me know if they have questions.
Recently, I did a video challenge, and asked my email subscribers if there was anything they wanted to see specifically. I recorded a video answering one of the questions, and sent it to that specific reader and she couldn’t believe that I remembered and followed through!
4. Every online brand owner eventually has an experience where something doesn’t go so well with a fan, client, or customer! Please share about one of those times, and what you’d do if you had it to do all over again.
I recently worked on a product-based website (which is something I rarely do). The client was looking into Shopify or Squarespace, and ultimately decided on Shopify. I had never worked with Shopify, but had been wanting to try it, and was excited for the new challenge!
Well, unless you’re a developer, it’s hard to do a lot of customizing in Shopify — even with a premium theme! The client was not happy with how the website was looking, and frankly, neither was I. So, I offered to start over on Squarespace – for free – and deduct the cost of her Shopify theme from my final invoice.
Even though I did discuss the two platforms prior to starting, I would go back and do more research on Shopify, and talk further with the client about why they wanted Shopify. If they ultimately wanted Shopify, I would have passed them onto a developer. But, because I wanted to produce work that I was proud of, and I wanted them ultimately to be happy, I moved them for free and took off the theme cost just in an effort to make the overall experience better on their end.
4. What do you think people would be surprised to hear about providing great customer service as an online business owner?
Sometimes it’s just the easiest, simplest things that can make a big difference.
At the beginning of a project earlier this year, a client’s dad was ill. When we launched the project and were finishing up, I checked in to see how her dad was doing at that point. It had nothing to do with our project, but I know personally how family troubles can affect our business.
It meant so much to her that I remembered and cared.
I think sometimes, we get too caught up on “being a business” – we hide behind our screens, always trying to get the sale, and rarely willing to just help someone for free. Send a handwritten note. Help them with that process that you know like the back of your hand. Remember that they are people, not just clients.
5. I’d love to hear about a favorite quote, saying, or memory that you rely on to inspire your brand’s customer service culture.
I lost my mom at the end of 2014 to a car crash. At her funeral, people shared stories and the recurring theme of my mom’s impact in their lives was her generosity – helping send students on trips, getting discounts on books for teachers, giving her shoes to a player on her volleyball team. It was one of those things that I had always seen my mom do, but hadn’t fully realized until after the fact.
I want to leave that same legacy – both professionally and personally.
Jessica Freeman is the owner and award-winning designer over at jesscreatives.com. She works with entrepreneurs to create a brand that shines. Jess lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, Aaron, and their dog, Morgan. She is obsessed with tacos, Gilmore Girls and traveling.
Now it’s your turn. Like the example Jess gave of empowering her clients via teaching them to edit their website themselves, what is a small yet impactful thing you do for your clients and/or customers?
Share it below so we can all learn together!