or… Do What You Say.

I continue to be amazed at how many businesses are out there with really crappy customer service. Don’t be one of them. This industry is lousy with low-ballers, hacks, wannabes, and gwc’s. If you want to stand out you need to be the one who gets the job done and with a minimum of hassle.

Best practices and customer service trends and fads come and go. When I was in college the en vogue acronym was TQM, Total Quality Management. At the time I thought it was pretty hilarious and redundant to think that industries needed to be reminded to treat their customers right. Ahhh, the naivete of youth. I had one particular instructor from the printing school give us his take on TQM. Although at the time I thought TQM was silly, his lessons stick with me today. Clients want their job done four ways. Fast, right, cheap and easy.

Fast. Seems pretty straighforward. It may be no big deal to you, afterall, it’s just another job. It’s a big deal to your client. ASAP is the business owners first general order.

Right. Give them what they want. Don’t know what they want. ASK. I don’t know about you but one reason I really like photography is that my verbal communication skills can be lacking. I’m not the only one out there like that. Ask questions. Don’t worry about being a pest, it’s better to ask too many questions before the shoot than to explain yourself after.

Cheap. It’s you client’s job to get things for the best price they can. It is not your job to get the most money out of each and every client. I’m not saying give the farm away. I’m not saying don’t charge every penny of what you’re worth. I’m saying understand your clients perspective and respect it. Most time they’ll do the same for you.

Easy. Time is money, even in this economy. Don’t put up barriers between you and your clients. Don’t surprise them with fees and expenses that weren’t on the estimate (unless they’ve changed the job.) Don’t make them go get their own lunch. I go so far as to build delivery fees into my creative fee. It’s not that I don’t charge for it. I just don’t line item it.

Whether you call it TQM, CRM, or plain old customer service, remember that when you client thinks of you, they need to feel warm and fuzzy inside. Not, “Crap, I’ve got to call them again.”

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