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:
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Making a personal connection in biz can improve your client + customer service -- and radically improve the impact you make as a brand.
That's because it helps you stop seeing your online business only in terms of straight numbers, and start seeing it for the fullness of what it TRULY is:
A help for living, breathing, struggling, aspiring human beings.
When you start seeing what you do in this way, you treat people -- well, you treat them differently.
In almost every way, you treat them better.
This not only makes you a great biz owner. It makes people like you. Listen to you. TRUST you.
If you've ever wondered how you get to be an "influential brand" -- that is, how you reach that level where people mention you on social media, often refer people to you, and faithfully rely on your advice or solution to their own problems -- this is the (plain and yet sometimes hard) answer.
You need to care about people and reach them in a place that matters before you can even think about reaching the heights that matter to you.
Happily, Kelly Wilson of Fit Fizz Studio gets that -- and that's why I'm eager to share her customer service wisdom on the blog today!
Read on to discover how she tries to make that authentic personal connection with her clients and customers (even when the things that come up in conversation are intimate and difficult):
Richard Branson, entrepreneur and business mogul, once said regarding heroic customer service, "The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways."
It's one of my top quotes that I refer to again and again in my own business, as it reminds me that to be the kind of unforgettable online brand I want to be, it's NEVER enough to just "do the job."
(That just keeps you out of trouble! ...
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!
When the subject of solo business owners and customer service comes up in biz conversation, people (understandably) tend to get nervous.
Running all the aspects of a business is daunting: there's licenses, and bookkeeping, and taxes, and proposals, and websites, and marketing, and packaging, and affiliates, and creating and/or providing the actual services and products, and, and, and. (You know all too well how it is.)
How in the WORLD does a solo biz owner fit heroic customer service into that whole mess?
Do you have to respond to every email within 10 minutes?
Do you have to devote your weekends to every "urgent" client text that comes your way?
Do you have to stay up until 2 a.m. slogging through last minute "minor" modification requests?
Do you have to be "on" ALL of the time?
Today in the first feature in the new Olyvia interview series on customer happiness, (the totally amazing) social media consultant and coach Julia Jornsay-Silverberg talks about precisely this. Plus, she's sharing how she serves people through free coaching calls, a communication mistake she learned from early on, and how a story of Pythagoras inspires her to go above and beyond with people in her business.