Customer Service Tips for Freelancers

So in yesterday’s post, I mentioned some of the customer service advantages freelancers have over companies. There were several advantages, some of which can make a big difference when utilized properly.

As long as the freelancer can handle his or her current workload, the customer service provided has the potential to be great. Here are some tips on how to utilize your advantages as a freelancer to make the customer service experience great.

  1. Get to know the client. Get to know the client as much as possible. Include lots of questions in the initial questionnaire to get a feel of who the client is, what they like, what they don’t like, etc. Don’t hesitate to put an “Interests” category. If the customer doesn’t want you to have the information, he or she won’t fill it out. If the customer does fill the form out, maybe you have a common interest and that’s something you can talk about.

    Pay attention to what the customer says whenever you correspond with him or her. Take notes about things the customer says and try and work them into future conversations. The customer will know you are paying attention and care, and it’ll pay off in the way of increased business from referrals.

  2. Provide frequent updates. Since you are a freelancer, you have no one to talk to for status updates – you know exactly what stage you are at and you should pass that information onto the client. Send the client an email every few days with short messages like “We just finished the visual layout for your new web site. Next step is coding.” In each correspondence, provide your contact information so the client can contact you if he or she has any further questions, comments, or concerns.

    If you don’t hear from a client as often as usual (say they email you once per day usually and you haven’t heard from them in four days), send an email, make a call, etc. and make sure everything is okay and on track. If they say “So and so” just happened, act accordingly. If someone in their family passed away, send a card, etc.

  3. Address concerns quickly. Address client concerns as quickly as possible. If they mention they didn’t like the color of something, change it, and then send it back to them. Chances are, it’ll be a few hours before you hear back from them again and you can then work on other things.

    Obviously, if you have a lot of work, you can’t do this all the time, but you should do your best to follow up on time. For example, if you say “OK, I’ll have the new draft to you in a day.” make sure you have to the client within that time period.

    Try to respond to emails quickly and make call backs whenever you get a message and have some time to respond. Freelancers have to do every part of the process (as opposed to just 1 or 2 parts that someone might do in a company), so things can get a bit more complicated when it comes to time management.

  4. Make decisions. Make decisions whenever you have the opportunity. If the customer asks “Can you do this at such and such a price?” don’t say “I’ll have to check and get back to you.”, you should try and say “Yes, we can do that.” or “No, unfortunately we cannot do that.” Less bureaucracy is something that freelancers should really utilize.
  5. Go the extra mile. Go the extra mile whenever you have the opportunity. If you aren’t too busy and are finishing up one client, throw something in (like business card designs, etc.) to add value to the package. The word of mouth will be worth the little bit of extra time and will likely get you some business.

    You can take it a step further by throwing in something that you aren’t really well known for or that you are trying to get going (like business card design, for example). This way the customer can say “Did you know so and so the freelancer does excellent business card design?”

Tomorrow’s post is how freelancers can get additional business through customer service. Hopefully this post has provided freelancers with some ideas of how they use their freelancer-ship (a made-up word) to their advantage when it comes to customer service.

5 Responses to “Customer Service Tips for Freelancers”

  1. Joe Rawlinson said:

    Jul 20, 06 at 3:08 pm

    As a part-time freelancer myself I appreciate your tips and look forward to the rest of the series.

    I definitely believe that freelancers can leverage their smaller overhead and non-bureaucracy to their advantage in out maneuvering the bigger competition.

  2. Service Untitled » Freelancers: Get Extra Business with Customer Service said:

    Jul 21, 06 at 2:15 pm

    […] There were some items discussed in the previous post about tips for freelancers to improve their customer service. Some good ways to get additional business through customer service (mainly by the way of referrals): […]

  3. CustomersAreAlways said:

    Jul 21, 06 at 7:37 pm

    Tips For Freelancers at “Service Untitled”…

    Douglas Hanna of Service Untitled has come through once again with a great series on customer service and freelancing.  My favorite piece of advice is this: "Go the extra mile. Go the extra mile whenever you have the opportunity. If……

  4. Stephanie Weaver said:

    Jul 22, 06 at 1:24 pm

    I agree… I think clear and frequent communication is the best tool we have to offer. Letting customers know how the project is going really helps their confidence level in you and your work. I put it on my schedule to send reminders to clients, so that I don’t get busy and forget. Thanks for the great blog!

  5. Successful Blog - SOB Business Cafe 7-21-2006 said:

    Sep 15, 06 at 8:19 pm

    […] Service Unlimited has some customer service tips for freelancers. They really apply to any business that has clients. […]