Customer Service Skills – a Necessary Trait for Every Freelancer

Customer Service Skills – a Necessary Trait for Every Freelancer

Customer Service is important, no matter if you’re running a billion-dollar business or if you’re a freelancer, like us. As I told you in a previous article, we also have a customer account on Upwork, which we use to hire people when we need help for our copywriting agency’s website (graphics, tweaks etc.). We’ve posted about 10 jobs so far, so, not that many.

While doing this, I saw numerous freelancers that don’t have even the smallest clue or interest about offering a great customer experience. It was easy for me to compare, as we’re freelancers as well. Their answers are late, hollow and I usually realize that they didn’t even read my entire message – which is not cool.

From my point of view, especially when you’re a freelancer, customer service isn’t just another way of being professional, but more of an opportunity to connect with your customer. And this is important because connecting with your customers is the best way to get great feedback, recurring jobs and referrals.

Here’s an example of bad customer service:

This happened to me two weeks ago:

Me: Hi Ephantus,

Would you be interested in doing some other graphics for our website? We need some new pandas designed.

Thank you!

Regards,

Tiberiu

Freelancer: Okay. No problem.

And here’s another example, after asking a freelancer for some services:

FreelancerI am waiting for order mate.

First of all, the customer is not your mate, even if you’ve been collaborating with him for months or years. The customer is, simply put, the customer. And you have to respect him, no matter what.

Secondly, you should always start your message with either “Dear [name],” or at least a “Hello [name],”, “Hi [name]” or “Hey [name]”. You’re looking to make an impression, aren’t you?

How should customer service look like for a freelancer?

Always answer in a timely manner

While Andreea generally works on the proofreading and editing part, I’m usually the one that maintains the communication with the customers. I always try to do this in the first two-three hours they messaged us (that’s if I’m not sleeping).

Here’s why:

a) Customers always appreciate when their questions are answered fast.

b) Most freelancers take about 24 hours to respond, so, the customer will like our services better, compared to them.

c) If we bidded on a job that hasn’t been awarded yet, answering the customer faster than another freelancer may win us the job, as, through my message I may be able to convince the client that I’m the right choice.

Still, if a client contacts you regarding a job you’ve applied to and hasn’t been awarded to you yet, try not to answer the first 30 to 60 minutes, as you may look desperate then.

Always be friendly and have a positive attitude

While above I presented you how bad customer service looks like, here are some more positive examples, directly from my account:

better freelancer customer service

See how I started the message?

“Dear Craig,

Thank you for your response!”

This is a much warmer way to approach customers then “Ok. I can do it”. 

The ending statement counts as well. First, make sure to add a call-to-action, like Looking forward to collaborating with you!. Secondly, make sure to end your message with some kind words instead of not saying anything. Here are a few closing statements that I use: warm regards, kind regards, best regards, warm wishes, kind wishes, best wishes, all the best.

The format is also important. Don’t write your response as a long, unending message. Try to hit enter once in a while. It will make it easier to read for the customer, and your response will also look better. Kudos for you!

Always be willing to help

Customers may ask some extra something from you, from time to time. If it doesn’t take you a lot of time to do it – say yes! It will matter a lot to them and you’ll also put yourself in a positive light.

This also applies to revisions. Yes, it’s true, some customers ask for more revisions than others. Don’t get angry if this happens. We all know your work is great, it may have just been a misunderstanding. Revisions are a normal part in the life of a freelancer, so, instead of getting upset, deal with it and be positive about it.

Pro Tip: Just to make sure that customers don’t ask for too many revisions, I always let them know that I only offer two for each work we do. Stating this from the beginning will keep them from asking you to re-do your work too many times. 

You may offer a third, but that’s just to put yourself in a positive light!

Provide an overall positive experience

You can’t imagine how many customers praised our customer service. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s important that the customers are pleased at the end of your contract. Of course, there’s that 1% that will never be happy, but that’s another story. I’ve just recently written a post about how we dodged a 1-star negative review where I talk more about offering a positive overall customer experience. Here are some key points to take from it:

  • if you need to re-do all your work again, then do it
  • if you need to do a full refund to escape negative feedback, then refund all the money
  • if you don’t like your customer’s attitude and you’re cursing the moment you’ve entered that contract, don’t show this to your customer. Keep calm and try to see what you can do in order to make things better and please your client.

For me, the above skills are the most important. But, if you’re interested in becoming a pro at it, you can check this following resource that displays a list of 15 customer service skills: http://www.helpscout.net/blog/customer-service-skills/

Offering great customer service as a freelancer isn’t that hard. It’s a matter of attitude and habit. You just need to educate yourself to follow the tips above and be calm, positive & helpful, no matter the situation. The rest will come by itself.

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