I don’t see a lot of people talking about this topic in marketing forums, but it is something my colleagues friends talk about quite a bit and my clients are always asking me how we handle customer service issues.
The hot topic is how to deal with community members and subscribers who are, let’s say, “a handful.”
I may take some slack for this post, but here are a few strategies that will help you reduce stress and headaches in your business. Obviously, we want to always come from a place of service and handle all questions, concerns and even complaints professionally and politely.
But there are steps we can take in order to minimize customer service issues that prevent future problems and time consuming tasks down the road.
- Define Your Ideal Client: Think about your most ideal clients. Are they fun to work with, with generally a good sense of humor and no drama? I know that fits my best and favorite clients.
The more complete your client avatar is, the better you will be able to market to them. Think about who your favorite top 5 clients are or were, and make a list of all the traits they
had in common that made them a dream client. Post them in your office, and make the decision to work with MORE people who have those same traits.
This will help you recognize them when they show up, and I believe will also help you to attract more of those clients when you know who your audience is.
- Define Your Non-Ideal Client: Then, think about your non~ideal clients. Maybe they were quick to complain, thrived on drama, slow to pay, or just difficult in other ways.
These traits could be personality based, or based on demographics, industry, income, etc. For instance, I typically only work with clients who make at least $4000.00 per month, and have been in business for two years. These traits allow my team to identify who is and isn’t the right fit when scheduling appointments.
- Establish Policies: My team functions as an extension of me, so they know how to respond to client emails, calls, questions, and issues. Of course we occasionally get complaints, and this is where the rubber meets the road in this post.
If complaints, concerns or problems come up, my team will refer back to our Ideal Client avatar. We will always happily go the extra mile for anyone who is pleasant, reasonable and honest. Sometimes we screw up, and we are always willing to make amends.
Usually when people reach out to get clarification, ask questions or raise concerns, they tend to be satisfied customers when someone responds with the intention of making them happy.
However, when someone is unreasonable, rude, or gives off signs of “shyster”, we give the same level of service but we also will make sure that we don’t have the opportunity to exchange “unpleasantries” with them again in the future.
When there is sufficient evidence to believe that someone isn’t an ideal prospect to work with in the future, you may want to take appropriate measures to ensure you don’t cross paths with them in the future.
- Have an Action Plan: Unreasonable people tend to always be unreasonable. And people who are polite and pleasant tend to have that default setting as well.
In the internet marketing world, we don’t have control over some of the people we attract. Usually we will attract people who are awesome, but bad apples can ruin the bunch, and it’s worth considering how you want to deal with them.
Because most email marketing software programs will charge you based on how many people are in your database, you want to make sure that you are investing in a list that provides you a return on investment.
People who thrive on being a customer service headache have more costs than just for the database fees. There is also the time cost in paying your team, merchant transaction costs, and of course the energy costs when there is unnecessary stress.
When problem children occasionally pop-up, remember that you are the master of your own domain and can set and enforce the rules that protect your sanity.
Have a course of action with checks and balances. Look at your shopping cart records to see what their track record has been in the past. Have they purchased in the past? Have there been positive exchanges previously? Have there been any negative experiences before?
If all signs point to “problem child”, in the internet marketing world we have the power to give them up for adoption and send them off to college somewhere else. You have every right to unsubscribe people who aren’t fun to correspond with.
Do you have a customer service policy in place so your team knows how to handle issues on their own without having to get you involved? And how do you deal with people who are unpleasant? Please feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.