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.
No matter the situation you find yourself in as an online entrepreneur that’s causing you to consider such a decision, it’s never an “easy” task to take an extended business break.
There’s so much guilt.
And SO many worries.
For instance, how can you take a “business sabbatical” — either full-time or part-time — and still make money (either a lot or a little)?
How do you continue to build followers and keep your blog alive, even if you’re not writing posts?
What should you know when it comes to taking care of client/customer service issues?
…Can you really take a break from business and still have anything at all to come back to? I mean, REALLY?
If this sounds like your kind of personal agony, I have some tips + ideas to share with you from my recent 4 month business break that just may help. :)
(And if you’re keen on discovering why I stepped back almost 100% from running Olyvia and what I’ve been doing all this time, you'll find the details at the end of this post!)
Guest post by Lauren Caselli, savvy event planner + gutsy boss lady
Remember that goal that you set for yourself to “finally start speaking” in 2016?
Or the time that you told yourself you’d host a live workshop FOR REAL this year?
Or how you’ve always toyed with the idea of possibly teaching to a roomful of your dream clients, buuuutttt you weren’t actually sure how you’re going to pull it off?
And now it’s almost the end of the first quarter and you’ve made no progress toward that goal?
Yea, girl. I feel you.
Back in January of 2015, I was frustrated and really overwhelmed with the whole “building a business” thing. I had a few copywriting clients (which is what I did before I moved over the planning events for digital entrepreneurs and tech companies), I had booked my very first live event client (a women’s retreat in Asheville), but the daily grind of focusing on blogging and social media and marketing -- it started to wear me out.
I was posting -- but no one was reading.
I was delivering SERIOUS content -- but no one was subscribing.
And all the while, I saw people totally blowing up in front of me. Snatching clients out of thin air. Marketing themselves so effortlessly in Facebook groups.
And I got so frustrated.
So, I decided I needed to do something different. I needed to create a community who had my back. Not necessarily for any sort of monetary gain, but because I needed the support of business people who “got it."
Dear Friends and Readers,
Do you ever want to write something terribly important to you, but no matter how many different ways you think about it, when you sit down to put words to the screen, you can't seem to make it sound like the mighty words living inside your brain?
That's where I am right now.
I suppose the only thing to do in these situations is to blurt it out and hope it doesn't come out sounding too ridiculous. Too rough around the edges. Too whatever.
(But you'll just have to forgive me if it does. ;))
So, for the lack of a better idea -- and, apparently, better composition skills -- that's what I'm going to do now.
When I started doing graphic + web design work full-time as a freelancer, it never occurred to me that there was such a thing as "client regret."
Avoid bad clients? Nah. There's no such thing, right?!
Money, after all, is money.
(Oh yes, go on. Laugh at my naïveté. I won't be offended.)
Perhaps I can redeem myself by admitting that it didn't take me long to wake me up from my rose-colored world where business owner and client skipped merrily along down the path to glorious pastures of perfectly completed projects, timely payments, and goodwill toward all.
About my third or fourth client in, it was then that I realized: being selective when it comes to clientele is not only perfectly acceptable, it's an act of profound kindness. For yourself and your business, of course, but even for the other person (who deserves to work with somebody fitted toward their unique wants + personality).
We are all pretty good people. I firmly believe that. But not everyone is meant to work together, and not everyone is a fabulous client.
"Sounds reasonable," you say. "But how do I spot a bad client before they BECOME a bad client and I have to see the job through to the bitter, smothering end?"
That's a hard thing to recognize at first, which is why I've compiled the following 9 early warning signs (gleaned from my own experiences in the wild wild west that is solo business ownership). I've also included a couple of word-for-word scripts you can use to say "no" to potential work that exhibits these -- or any other -- red flags.
Before you take on a new client, run through this list first. It helps!