Getting Down To Business: Guaranteeing Satisfaction

by Randy Murray on February 8, 2011

One of the most difficult things that every business faces, big or small, is keeping customers happy. I feel that this is even more important for freelancers and small businesses. First, you don’t have that many customers. But perhaps even more important is this: your existing customers are your best way to get NEW customers. And that will only happen if they’re happy with the work you do for them.

But it’s more than happy, really. Satisfaction says that you accomplished what they needed you to do, and accomplished it in a way that says, “working with Randy was completely worth the expense and effort.”

For me, it’s more important that a customer is satisfied than it is to get paid. Yes, getting paid is critical, but I’d much rather have a customer satisfied so I can get the next piece of business. Anything that makes the customer unhappy is a barrier to future business with them and to new customers. As a small business operator, I can’t afford to have unhappy customers.

Here’s what I recommend to make sure you have satisfied customers:

  1. Use a Statement Of Work. Make sure you have expectations clearly set.
  2. Keep them informed and involved in every step of your work.
  3. When the job is completed, make sure you take a moment and speak with your customer. Ask them how they viewed the work that you did. Don’t settle for “it was fine.”

In particular, if when you ask for a job review and they hesitate or grumble, step up and fix the problem. Either correct the work, at your expense, or offer them a discount on the completed work. Don’t offer them a discount at future work. If they’re not happy with you now, why would they want to work with you again, even at a discount?  Find a way to make them happy now, not later.

There are, of course, customers who simply cannot be made happy. They have unreasonable requests or are unhappy for reasons that may have nothing to do with you. In that case, walk away. Thank them for the opportunity, but do not seek additional work from them. If they approach you again, either set new ground rules and expectations or refer them to someone else.

A satisfied customer can become a great marketing asset. Don’t just pocket their check, make sure they want to give you more checks in the future.

The Getting Down To Business: Guaranteeing Satisfaction by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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