Give Great Service: 5 Essential Tips

Notice: This is a discussion thread for comments about the SitePoint article, Give Great Service: 5 Essential Tips.

This rule also applies for responding to emails—read them of an evening or weekend, if you must, but don’t respond unless absolutely necessary out of normal hours.

Actually I find the evening a good time to write responses to emails that I haven’t got around to during the day; there’s less distractions. But I don’t actually send the emails until within business hours the following day.

I think I do fairly well at the first four points you’ve made but know I could probably do better on #5 although I find I’m usually too busy either thinking about or working on the next project to remember to follow up on completed projects.

We recently had a software-induced problem on a web site that affected a little over 100 paying customers. Without going into details, this potential fiasco was, I believe, turned around by following these principals:

  1. Take full responsibility immediately. Even if the problem is due to an outside resource, let everyone know what you know as to what the problem is and that you’re taking charge to find a solution.

  2. Formulate a plan to fix or alleviate the problem(s) and communicate that to all involved as soon as possible.

  3. Follow-through with periodic updates, even if there is nothing new to report other than: “we’re still working on it.” Don’t make empty promises, though. If you think it will be fixed tomorrow, be honest and say so.

Over the course of the next two days, the problem was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. We actually received thank-you letters from people, telling us that they were relieved to know that a) the problem wasn’t their fault, and b) someone cared enough to tell them what was going on. No one cared what the technical problem was, just that we were working hard to resolve it and then did so to their satisfaction. This also gave us credibility when we assured them that it wouldn’t happen again.

The real test will be if our customers renew their contract next year. What we expect to hear is something along the lines of: “they really screwed up, but got on it right away and worked until it was fixed. Stuff happens and they didn’t let us down. We’ll use them again.” Over time, we hope that people will remember the personal support and feeling like they were looking over our shoulders as we made things right again.

One benefit of this was that many people took the time to ask us about other problems they were having that were unrelated to this one, and that kind of feedback gives us the opportunity to make our service better.

I would say the recommendations are really useful and they really work. Especially i would mark out tips 1,2 and 4, these are must-follow in any business.

I myself would mention one more point, it can not always be achieved, however it is really preferable: you should sincerely care for customers and their business. Actually, their business success is your business success, however there are so many business owners who do not realize that.

Also, do not hesitate to suggest customers even more then they expect from you, take active participation, try to give useful advice from your professional point of view. Customers feel when you sincerely try to help them, and they trust you in this case.

I just bought myself a copy of the “The Principles of Successful Freelancing” book, and expected to find a sample copy of a webdesign contract but was dissappointed not to. Is there not a way to make this available to buyers of this book, without having to fork out any more (limited) money?