‘C’ is for Client Service

This post is inspired by my own experiences with a vendor who shall remain nameless. I have to tell you: It’s super tempting to call them out publicly, but I’m going to take the more professional high road (round of applause for my maturity and professionalism, please).

But truly, it’s not just this one incidence. Terrible customer service is all around us in different forms and levels of horribleness. Many times, all that is required for good customer service is to be helpful, friendly and remember to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.

In the instance that inspired this post, the infractions were far more severe than a simple ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’. But first, the background.

A client of ours hired a vendor to execute a project that should take no more than six to eight weeks. The project is pretty straight forward and there are tons of people out there who could do the work. The point is: The client wasn’t really asking for anything all that complicated or unusual.

I’m going to fast forward us to nine months (approximately) after the vendor was hired …. the project is still not complete. Our contacts within the vendor’s organization are lacking in a number of areas that I think we can all learn from:

1. Returning phone calls. Do you have a rule for how quickly you return a voice message? This vendor from hell may take up to three or four weeks to return mine and that’s not cool. Create a rule for yourself that voice messages take priority on being returned. If it doesn’t require a return phone call, then at minimum, follow up via email to let the person know you heard their message and are working on a solution.

2. Responding to emails. We live in a fast-paced society and it should not take days or weeks to respond to emails. Even if you don’t have the answer, at least acknowledge the note.

3. Respect. It seems silly to even have to list this one, but as a vendor and as a client, we need to treat each other with respect. Doing what you’ve promised, when you’ve promised it. Respecting your client’s time.

4. I’m not a number. As a client, don’t treat me like I’m one of many. I want to feel like I’m the only person you work with.

5. Just do your work, squirrel. I’m your client, we agreed to a specific list of tactics and, more than likely, a timeline in which you’ll complete them. Your job is to do the work (in a timely manner), mine is to pay you.

Clearly this post is mostly rant, but it’s also important for all of us as entrepreneurs to do a reality check and make sure our client service is top notch. After all, our clients are the reason why we are where we are.

Have you hugged your clients today?