Even if you're a solopreneur, as I am, customer service is a primary concern, just as though I were a big corporation. In fact, I think it's more important, as your customers expect you to respond more quickly to an issue than a big company. No one seems to have expectations of superior customer service from large companies any longer, unfortunately. In fact, most of us are surprised if we get any type of consideration when we have to contact a large company for assistance.
Recently, I experienced very poor customer service from a fellow solopreneur. After making my first purchase from him, he added me into a coaching program, which I initially thought was a nice gesture. What I failed to realize is that he added me into a recurring monthly billing program WITHOUT my permission. I hold others to some pretty high standards when it comes to recurring billing, as I sometimes think that I inform my members to death about the recurring nature of my membership program, as well as point out numerous times how easy it is for them to opt-out.
Imagine my surprise when I checked my email one morning to find another charge from this solopreneur for a program that I had never wanted or used. It took 3 emails, a phone call, and the passage of 5 days (3 business days) before I finally received a response. In this case, it was simply an acknowledgment that he had gotten my email and couldn't respond because he was dealing with a family emergency. I might have accepted this EXCEPT this was the same excuse heard a few weeks prior when I inquired about why I hadn't received my product from him.
Needless to say, my patience was worn pretty thin at this point, as I expect others to respond immediately, as I do, when there's a customer service issue, especially involving usage of a credit card. In my next email to him I noted that while I could empathize with his situation, it wasn't cool to ignore his customers, for his assistant (and I knew that he had one) could have at least acknowledged my initial emails rather than having me sit in limbo for so long. Rather than acknowledging any reasponsibility for his actions, he told me that he was sorry that I thought I had to wait too long for him to respond, as he felt that 2 business days (it was actually 3) was an adequate response time. I can't imagine making one of my customers sit around and wait that long for a response from me.
This story gets even better. I never heard from him on the day he told me that he was to take care of this issue (Friday), so I had to email yet again the following Monday to ask for a status update regarding my refund. He told me that he had taken care of it over the weekend and had emailed me at that point to notify me and that my failure to receive it must be the work of "email gremlins". Hmmm, I'm not really believing him at this point, as I seem to have gotten every other email from him except the one notifying me about my refund. At I write this story, I'm still checking my account to see if or when the transaction refund appears.
By this time I have completely lost all respect for him, lost any trust I had in him as a professional, and canceled my subscription to his lists. I scrapped plans to invite him to be an expert guest for my members at OnlineBizU.com and for me to be a teleclass guest for his clients. Adding your customer into something she didn't request, had no way to get out of, and for which she would be charged another fee in 30 days is a VERY poor business practice. Choosing to follow up in a leisurely fashion only adds fuel to the fire.
Even if something has gone wrong in a transaction, you can salvage your relationship with your customer simply by responding promptly. I have gotten many, many emails thanking me for my quick response to a customer's issue, many of which noted how quickly I had responded. How does your customer service stand up?
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.