Must Read Customer Service Tips for Web Designers

by on June 20th, 2011 0 comments

Quite often, web designers, programmers, and web developers spend most of their days working very hard, coming up with excellent products or offering top quality service, and yet they fail in one of the most important aspects of any business – customer service.

Just how important is customer service in web design?

Despite what many designers thinks, it is as important as in any other business, be it offline or online. Even the most talented designer needs to spend adequate time on working with his or her customers, take the time to understand their needs, be patient, and deal with emergencies, real or perceived in a swift manner. This is a delicate process since you, as a web designer, would have to find the right balance between dealing with customers, which could be challenging or downright frustrating, and spending time actually working on their projects. Rest assured – the time you spend on customer service is an investment in your own business and it could make all the difference if or rather when things begin to slow down.

Where do most designer fail and how can you learn from their mistakes?

Having clear terms is something that every designing firm, even if it is a one-man operation, must have. State clearly what constitutes free and what constitutes paid service – if you decide to offer free initial consultation in order to solicit new clients and offer paid post-project service, then make sure that all your clients are aware of your terms.

Timely response to enquiries is crucial for your business! You would want your customers to be able to count on you to respond quickly in times of emergency, and should try your best to address all their questions and enquires swiftly. Make sure to have your telephone number listed on your websites, especially if you are dealing with mostly local customers, and turn on the alerts in your email accounts. Shutting off the blinds and concentrating on your next project might be more productive for you, but you should always find the time to reply to your customers promptly if you want their long-term business.

Patience is a virtue! We all want customers that know exactly what they want, provide every details that we need, and pay on time every single time. Well, they do exist, but then you will have many clients contacting you with questions that might seem silly to you, people that are unsure of what they want, and people that are not happy with the work that you do for them, no matter how hard you try. It takes a world of patience to deal with clients from all backgrounds and from all over the Globe, but patience will help you build your customer base and grow it.

Timely delivery – if there is one single complaint that you hear repeatedly, it is the one that web designers will come up with just about any excuse in the book for late project delivery. While slip-ups could and will happen, they should be the very rare exception rather than the rule – your customers would want to receive their designs on time and not a day later. It is important for them and it should be twice as important for you as delaying the project could cause them loss of business, and your chances of a securing any future orders from these customers are slim at best. Learn how to manage your time properly, do not take emergency projects if you are not likely to be able to complete them on time, and use project management tools if that would help you stay organized.

Responding to emergencies – hopefully, you will not have to do this often, but if you are contacted by a customer with an emergency, real or perceived, you should deal with it right away. You might have built hundreds of websites and designed hundreds of projects, but most customers have only one or two websites and even the smallest mishap might seem like an emergency to them. If such situations arise, you need to respond promptly and try your best to fix the issues.

Under-promise and over-deliver – this sure is a cliché, which you have heard before, but it is true nonetheless. It is all about your customer’s expectations and exceeding them will always result in greater satisfaction, while falling short will lead to disappointments.

Pick up the phone – while using an email is what most web designers and freelancers do, offering voice-to-voice support will definitely put you ahead of the competition and is the fastest way to respond to your clients, build trust, and offer speedy support.

How to deal with “whales” – after a few years in the business, you are likely to have established a long-term relationship with a few large clients. It is the golden 20/80 rule, where the top 20% of your customers are giving you 80% of the projects that you work on. Just like the Las Vegas casinos treat their whale customers and shower them with attention, you should bend backwards for your own “whales.” You do not have to rent the presidential suite for them or offer Crystal on the house, but you need to stay on top of their projects and give them the very best of your customer service. While treating all your customers with respect is important, give your loyal and biggest clients the extra respect that they deserve.

Follow up – you have finished your project, you were paid, and you no longer have to care what happens next, right? Wrong! Follow up on most of you projects, show your clients that you care, and you are likely to win quite a few additional projects.

Use the latest tools, gadgets, and technology – this is where being a web designer is different from most of the offline businesses. You need to keep up with the technology and use the latest software, tools, and gadgets that could help you improve your customer service. If you are having trouble understanding what your customer needs, or your customer is having trouble understating you, then why not show them your design, template, or prototype instead of trying to describe it via email? Using a collaboration tool would enable you to present your ideas visually and share your projects, templates, and designs with your clients, saving both parties precious time. If your customer is having trouble uploading the files that you have just sent, then you can easily help by using remote access to his or her computer. It all boils down to going the extra mile and offering more than your competition!