As an entrepreneur I’ve had a few instances where service providers have promised me that once they complete a project I would ‘own’ it and have total access to it. Unfortunately, that has not been the case from my perspective. When I’ve had to make repeated requests for data, passwords, etc, frankly what I feel is held hostage by them.
If we’re really going to be customer-focused, each of us should consider whether any of our customers, for any reason, might feel the same when it comes to doing business with us. The best customer service involves the customer – delivering a high quality product/service that fulfills their needs while providing them ease of access to all we offer in the hopes of growing our businesses together.
Here are four examples of how we might provide our customers with the information they need to easily do business with us. The ‘in case I’m hit by a bus’ papers, if you will.
1. Contact information:
Simply provide all customers with a roster of all your employees including job function, direct phone lines/extensions and e-mail addresses. If the customer wishes to contact someone for any reason they can do so easily.
2. Expectations and next steps:
Once the contract is signed, what are the next steps in your process to deliver your customer the finished product? Write those steps down and provide them in the form of a timeline working backwards. If the end product will be delivered in six weeks, let the customer know what will be happening in weeks one through six, who on your team will be involved, where they’ll need to be available to make decisions, etc. This goes a long way towards putting them at ease and eliminates many questions and interruptions, all of which add up to greater efficiencies, productivity and profits.
Make accessing any instructions as painless as possible. Be succinct, use videos and/or photos where appropriate, provide links, outline the necessary steps in chronological order, etc. This is especially important when specific processes must be adhered to in order to generate desired end results. This also gives you a document to review with them to ensure steps are followed in sequence. Should turnover occur, this makes the on-boarding process easier. You should also post manuals and offer FAQ’s and troubleshooting videos on-line.
4. All access:
A friend of mine is a web developer and he provides his clients with all necessary data, web addresses, links, etc. that they may need to access and/or monitor their project; he lists URLs, passwords, and a brief description of the client’s domain registrar, web host, WordPress login, database login, etc. – everything his client would need to manage their website in the event that 1) they want to maintain their own site, 2) they’re unhappy and wish to hire someone else, or 3) something happens to him. He then takes it a step further and provides complete instructions on how to add/change anything on the site, including screen shots so the client knows exactly what they should be looking at and where to click.
The main point is to always consider what the customer might be wondering about and do our best to provide them with the information they need for a hassle-free engagement with us. If we focus instead on protecting our business in a way that benefits us more than our customers we’re just kidding ourselves about our true potential for long-term success and growth.