It might sound hackneyed, but Urban Lighthouse owes its success and survival to customer service. Since day one, back in 2003, our primary goal has been to establish long-term client relationships.
But when it comes to marketing, we’re pretty lazy. We don’t advertise. We should probably go to more networking events. We definitely need to focus on SEO and increase our social media presence.
Despite these shortfalls, we’ve managed to attract new clients. And it’s thanks to a benefit of putting customer service first — one that pays off exponentially: the referral.
Entrepreneur Magazine states:
“To make a lasting impression on customers, you need to do more than produce an excellent product and provide reliable service: You need to turn them into marketing machines.”
The term “marketing machines” sounds a bit extreme to us. This shouldn’t be a primary goal when you’re working on a project. We’re simply talking about achieving a level of customer service that will, eventually, produce referrals.
Here’s what works for us:
Be upfront, up front
When planning a project or participating in exploratory discussions, speak clearly. Avoid jargon and industry-specific terms. Ask honest questions so you can get a clear understanding of your client’s requirements, then reciprocate by explaining what exactly what your product or service will do for them. Explain how it works, inside and out. Use visuals. Be open about their options and honest about your recommendations.
Under promise, over deliver
If there was only one tip on this list, this would be it. You need to mindfully reign in your client’s expectations to align with reality. Don’t throw around half-baked ideas or half-hearted promises about ROI.
Outline your scope in plain language. Outline your out-of-scope notes in plain language. Then, if you have the capabilities and without breaking the budget, go the extra mile.
Be a friend
When a customer asks you for a reasonable favour, don’t scoff. Of course, IT professionals are inundated with requests for free support – but this is a chance to show clients how much you appreciate their business.
This is something you should do out of kindness, though, not because you have an endgame in mind. Perhaps the tip would be better phrased as, “Don’t limit your customer service to the scope of your project.” I’m not asking you to configure networks, but the odd file conversion or nugget of insight isn’t going to break the bank. We’re not lawyers, for goodness’ sake! (Kidding?)
Obvious, but important: All the hard work you’ve put in developing/working away on a project means zilch if you peter out on delivery. Never treat QA as an afterthought. Involve your client in the troubleshooting and testing processes. Be realistic about your timeline. A disappointing delivery is the easiest way to nix any chance of referrals.
That’s it. Despite the title of this post, there’s no special trick here: Just be honest, be kind and do the best work possible.