Listen To Your Clients Or Set Firm Boundaries? Advice From A Successful Designer
Can you set boundaries in biz and still listen to your clients?
Or does being a small business owner mean you get to run things your way, all the time?
One of the biggest mistakes I some people make when they start their own business, especially online (where other people can seem far away and relationships less personal), is subscribing to the idea that they need to dominate over their clients.
“This is my business and I make all the rules. If you don’t like them, don’t hire me!”
Have you ever run into a business owner who made you feel that way? (I have, and it’s an icky feeling.)
Boundaries ARE important — particularly when it comes to essential biz operations like payment policies — and it’s not bad to have them.
But as in all things in life, when they are taken to the extreme, they can stop being healthy and start being used as an excuse to treat people badly.
And that doesn’t just hurt clients or customers…it hurts our businesses, too. It’s difficult to run a thriving brand when people feel as if their needs + wants come in third, fourth, or last place!
In this interview today, Fashiony Fab owner Maru Ramirez (a favorite classy boss lady of mine) talks about this very issue — as well as shares her best practices when it comes to email replies to clients, how she helps recurring clients feel extra special, and what crucial (healthy) boundary she learned to implement early on in her biz.
Check it out below:
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 focus mainly on offering branding and web design with style for bloggers and entrepreneurs. Having the right communication with my clients and making sure they are happy with not only the result, but also the complete process, is key for my brand.
On each project we work together to reach that ultimate outcome for their brands. By letting them know that their ideas matter and that we are collaborating to reach their goals, means that the process will be successful and they will feel empowered to keep going.
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?
While I’ve learned a lot about customer service this past year, having a background in Psychology helped me when I first started. Before owning this design studio, I used to work in that field, which gave me more experience with working with clients.
Of course, you never stop learning. Reading about assertive behavior and online service gave me more tools to improve.
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 always try to reply to emails as soon as possible. Being that email is my main channel of communication, I consider it key to let my clients know that I’m there. Even if it’s just to say “I got your email” and reply later on with more information, it makes a huge difference.
For my recurrent clients, I also offer them discounts when we start a new project together and make sure to send them exclusive offers.
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.
When I first started offering branding services, I worked with a blogger on different materials, including logo and social media graphics. Back then I didn’t know how to handle payments, so I delivered the graphics before the final invoice was made.
After countless of attempts to reach my client to complete the final steps, realized they were already using the final files on their website and social media. I never heard back from them again, just sent an email asking for them to not use the files until the payment was covered. They just took them down and that was it.
While it was an unpleasant experience, I learned a lot from it and changed my policies, which have worked great ever since.
5. What do you think people would be surprised to hear about providing great customer service as an online business owner?
Being an online business owner, because you are mostly on your own and not in direct contact all the time with your clients, means that sometimes you forget that is not about you, it’s about them.
Yes, you need to set boundaries — but you also need to listen to your clients, be opened to their ideas, and focus on what they need.
As a designer, this means that, while I have a specific style, they might want the complete opposite and I need to adapt to it.
It’s all about listening and focusing on your clients.
6. 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 love this quote by Nelson Boswell: “Always give people more than what they expect to get.” When it comes to working with clients, always go the extra mile, that’s what will make them stay longer, recommend you and keep coming back for more.
This can including a freebie, a discount, an extra proof — find the way to let them know they are special and that you appreciate working together.
Hello, I’m Maru! The designer and creative behind Fashiony Fab, a design studio dedicated to creating branding and web design with style for bloggers and entrepreneurs.
What are some “boundaries” that you see biz owners set that are detrimental to their clients? How do you personally balance boundaries and making your clients happy? Please share below!