Solo Business Owners And Customer Service: You Don’t Have To Be ‘On’ All The Time
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.
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?
As a social media consultant and coach, I primarily serve small business owners and online entrepreneurs. I love working with people on an individual basis, to provide actionable advice on how they can use social media to move the needle on their specific business goals.
Client happiness is critical to my brand because it shows the proof of concept. Happy customers are ones that walk away from a coaching session filled with ideas; they’re inspired to take action. The happiness of my clients is important because it shows me whether they’re leaving a session or project feeling excited and empowered. That’s always how they should feel.
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?
When I first started my online brand, I wasn’t savvy at all when it comes to customer service. To be honest, YOU (Erika) were a big resource to me. You helped me realize the importance of setting aside specific hours in my day to respond to customer service requests and questions.
By mapping out my day and setting aside email hours, I am able to come from a service mindset each and every day when responding to emails. This goes a long way in making customers feel heard and cared for.
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?
Small and mighty should be my middle name, because I’m all about taking the small steps to create big results.
I do a weekly Periscope on Wednesday at 10 AM EST to provide my online audience with takeaway tips on a variety of social media channels. One thing I’ve started to do is offer free coaching calls with individuals that follow-up with me after the broadcast with smart questions or feedback. This shows my audience that I value their feedback tremendously; so much so, that I’m willing to give them my undivided attention for 10-30 minutes.
These free coaching sessions have led to a number of paid clients.
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 once was working with an online entrepreneur who was very busy in her business. She hired me to create a social media strategy for her brand, which she loved. She then decided, due to her time restraints, that she wanted to hire me to implement the plan.
During implementation, I could see that the client wasn’t thrilled with some of the content that I was creating on her behalf. She felt that the imagery didn’t match her color palette, however when I asked her to send over the palette she let me know that she didn’t have one on paper, just in her head. I got the same feedback about adjectives I used to describe her online; she wasn’t thrilled with them, however she didn’t have a list of adjectives for me to refer to that were a better fit.
If I had to do it all over again, I would be more detailed at the early stages of the relationship to find out how much the business owner has ready. (Aka, do they have a website? A style guide? Google Analytics?)
Getting all of the information upfront is the best way to determine what else you need to gather before implementation.
5. What do you think people would be surprised to hear about providing great customer service as an online business owner?
I think people would be surprised to hear that you don’t have to be “on” all the time. My customers really appreciate knowing that I have set hours that I respond to email, because they know that if it’s urgent, it’s best to call or text me. Having a set schedule for when I respond to my clients helps us both feel organized, and it ensures that the clients always feel cared for.
Setting expectations early on for when, where and how you respond will go a long way in making your customers feel catered to.
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. 🙂
My favorite saying is more-so a story:
As a theorist, Pythagoras was always working through something. One day he got stuck, so he went for a walk in town and passed a blacksmith’s shop.
As he walked past, a beautiful sound echoed in the air. He peeked his head into the shop and saw five workers inside, each using a hammer to bend iron. It turned out that the beautiful sound was a result of the hammers all striking the iron in unison.
Seems like magic, right?
Well, Pythagoras, being the man he was, wanted to discover what made the sound so beautiful, so he took the hammers and went about studying their weights and heights.
He discovered that each of the first four hammers had a weight that was a multiple of the other. The fifth hammer, however, didn’t follow any of the rules.
Pythagoras threw out the fifth hammer in his theory, but it turned out it was the fifth hammer all along that caused the beautiful harmony. The fifth hammer added a boldness to the sound. Without the fifth hammer, the sound would have been flat and dull.
That’s exactly how you need to be on social media: loud and original. To grab attention, you can’t sound like everyone else. You want to be the fifth hammer.
Julia Jornsay-Silverberg is a social-media marketing consultant and coach with a passion for helping businesses use social media to attract their audience, build brand awareness and connect with customers. See the URLs below if you’d like to find out more about her!
Free social media guide: http://juliajornsaysilverberg.com/services/free-social-media-guide/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Jbethjs/
And before you go, might you leave a comment below on how you think solo business owners can give great customer service — without the burnout? Julia and I would love to hear your thoughts + ideas!
Main blog image (c) CreateHER Stock