Small businesses, especially those run by one person like mine, can get so involved in the nitty-gritty of producing the goods that they forget to ask clients two important questions that will help improve customer service:
- What do you think I do well?
- What could I do better?
They’re important questions if you want to improve your copywriting and editing service and really stand out from the crowd.
It’s National Customer Service Week, a week-long ‘opportunity to raise awareness of customer service and its role in successful business practice and UK economic growth’. So, I decided to be proactive and find out what clients thought I could do to improve customer service. It wasn’t a big survey. Just an email on Friday afternoon to a cross-section of clients asking them to answer those two key questions with whatever came into their mind first.
The one thing we learn from history is that no one ever learns from history. The same could be said when it comes to learning from other people’s experiences. That’s why getting regular feedback on improving your service is so important.
Some might say it’s mad to make your imperfections public, but I’m going to share what I’ve learned anyway. It might help other marketing copywriters to get their customer service right first time.
“Alison has worked on a number of complex and high-profile projects for us – in all of these she has demonstrated outstanding attention to detail and a willingness to go above and beyond the original brief to ensure the quality of copy delivered is of an outstanding quality.”
Could do better…
“I can’t fault Alison’s work. Perhaps the only thing I’d suggest is she’s sometimes too accommodating.”
Perfectionism can bite you on the backside. Don’t be so keen to do a great job that you over-service the client with something they don’t need. When a client briefs you, make sure you double-check anything that’s not clear. For instance, if they ask you to do a general read-through, looking for typos and grammatical errors in a chairman’s speech, check if they also want you to suggest rephrasing anything. It may well be that the chairman’s words ‘must not be touched’.
“Alison always delivers when she says she will (if not ahead of schedule), working to often very tight and demanding deadlines. She has an innate attention to detail and an ability to translate what can be very technical and dry subject matter into something that is easy to understand and engaging for the audience. I respect Alison’s honest and open approach when reviewing our communications and value the ideas that she shares.”
Could do better…
“It’s tough to answer this question when you’re very satisfied with a service. If I could ask for more it would be for more ideas – Alison is getting to know our business very well and the communication challenges we face, so I would welcome her proactive feedback and ideas on our communications activity and what more we could be doing to make our communications best practice.”
Don’t assume your opinion isn’t valued. But when you do send feedback, check that your ideas have ‘legs’ before suggesting them to the client. You might be asked to put your pen where your mouth is, so be prepared. Since this feedback, I’ve sent five ideas to the client which she’s putting to her team today.
“Delivering on time, largely to brief.”
Could do better…
“Sharper writing, as in adding a more noticeable edge, and a closer focus on the client’s business. Definitely an A, with an A* just within reach.”
Nobody’s perfect. If you really want to improve customer service, it’s a good idea to test your writing every now and then by sending it to a sub-editor for review. They’ll help to pull up your copy – even if it’s as short a distance as A to A*. Take the time to ask the agency to describe their client’s business in depth and nail the brief down more tightly before you begin.
I’m chuffed that all three clients had positive things to say about my service. But the constructive criticism is even better. I’m going to use all three clients’ feedback to improve my service and surpass their expectations in future.
Author: Alison Harmer