One of the key things that separates a great freelancer from an average one is the service they provide. Unfortunately, there are too many freelancers who don’t appreciate the importance of top notch customer service as a client retention, promotional and business development tool.
If you really want to add power to your business elbow, you need to get your service level spot on. So how do you go about it?
The most important thing in business is integrity. Integrity is all about being honest in business, having strong principles and doing the right thing by your business and for your clients. Integrity in your freelancing activities is what will really get you noticed. When you say to a client that you’ll do something, do it at least within, and ideally ahead of the timescales you’ve agreed with them and do it to the very best of your ability. A great service standard for me is that I never send something to a client that I wouldn’t happily publish with my own name next to it.
When it comes to defining your service levels, you needn’t create a 500-page document or make any commitments you think you mightn’t be able to uphold. The important thing is to set standards for your service tht you can deliver and you know will add value to your offering and to your clients’ businesses. Here are just some of the things I include in my commitment to service:
- I respond to all emails within 1 hour maximum during working hours. In exceptional circumstances, I’ll reply to emails within this timescale outside working hours too. Although I don’t do this as standard, I make a point of doing so for any client who has a pressing project or is under pressure to get a job completed. By means of example, I worked two consecutive nights for a client who was asked at the last minute to bid for a job for the Olympic Park in London -he won the job !
- I make it easy for my clients to contact me by telephone, email or Skype whenever they wish during working hours.
- I agree service levels with every client regarding timing and communication. For my regular weekly clients, the work they send me on a Monday is delivered by close of business on the Friday of the same week, accompanied with an email offering to carry out edits or changes if required. I never charge for changes, so it’s important from a business point of view that I fully understand the client brief.
- The work I do is checked at least twice (and in many cases three or four times) for grammatical and spelling errors and wherever humanly possible goes to the client perfect and ready for proof-reading and publication. To check that my written work is at least 75% original content I use www.copyscape.com which is an awesome tool and only costs cents per article
These are just some of the things that you should think about when it comes to setting your own service levels. At the end of the day, setting and sticking to high customer service levels will get you a whole lot of word of mouth referrals, so it’s well worth putting the effort in.