As a freelance commercial makeup artist, hair stylist and wardrobe stylist, shopping for clothing, accessories, and other items for photo and video shoots is a weekly part of what I do within my business. One week, I may be sourcing football uniforms for a major fast food chain commercial, another week tracking down a major league soccer player’s official uniform to pack for a shoot overseas, shopping for just the right length of lab coat so we identify the talent properly in a medical video, outfitting actors and employees for a grocery store commercial or ordering supplies for my kit or a client. Every day, every project, every shopping trip, retail and client interaction is different and extremely important.
This leads me to speak to the continued importance of excellent client and customer service whether you are on the giving or receiving end. It is necessary across the board whether it’s in the retail sector, corporate setting or in the freelance business world. With the pressures we face today, shortages of workers, more and more work to keep up with, uncertainties and the fatigue of the pandemic, we know it’s all weighing on us. Which is why I truly feel it's more important than ever to focus on providing excellent client and customer service. Not only for the health of our businesses but for the health of us all!
On a recent shopping trip pulling clothing for a commercial shoot, I became even more aware of this; experiencing many different levels of service from one retailer to the next. When the same standard of service is consistent from the same retailer at two or more locations, I realized, it had to be trickling down from the management. When the service is good this is great! When the service is not so good, well you know the rest!
Being a freelancer, we are the “management” of our businesses so let’s remind ourselves to keep client service top of mind. Excellent even good service makes a difference and here's why...
It’s inexpensive to fully acknowledge, listen and be present in conversations and interactions.
It creates connection with clients & customers.
It makes people feel noticed and valued.
You can literally make someone’s day and it just might be yours.
It’s a way to truly stand out among your competition.
The best advertising a business can have.
A great way to express the personality of your business.
You can find out what is working or isn’t working in your business then refine your products and/or services.
Responding with urgency makes a great impression.
It's wonderful for your brand & business.
So, let’s face it, hiring the right people in every position is vital. However, as freelancers many of us are the only people working in and on our businesses! We do the work of 2, 5 or 10 people. I know we don’t need to add more responsibilities, however making excellent client service a priority, we just can’t go wrong! It's the best return on your investment time, attention and yes maybe some cash. People are more forgiving of everything else when they feel heard and acknowledged; so very true, especially in service based businesses. If you can nail down your clients, really know exactly who they are and what they need, you can begin anticipating client's needs in advance. This not only shows you are paying attention but are striving to make their lives easier. Ultimately, they feel you know them and are catering to them personally and who doesn’t love that! It reinforces the know, like and trust factor that is vital in all businesses. It's also earning their loyalty which organically turns them into brand ambassadors.
I experienced this first-hand while on tour working in Kyoto, Japan. The hotel we stayed at seemed to have been in my thoughts “real time” providing small in-room amenities that took care of my smallest of needs. From multiple on-the-go hair brush/comb combos, nail files, bathrobes, slippers to anti-fogging in just the right place on the bathroom mirror so after a hot shower, no need to wipe away the fog, it was already done. Subtle, simple but much appreciated. By taking these extra steps, they definitely left an impression! We were happy to share this experience with others we talked to.
Providing these “extra mile” details will enhance relationships leaving your clients and customers feeling good! They will attach the “feel good” emotion to you, your brand, your business. The good word will spread to others. In return, there is a good chance you will receive repeat and new business from that initial client and those they told about their experience.
It’s a great time to revisit or create your client & customer service plan and process. Put it on paper! Start by asking yourself these 5 questions:
What does excellence in service mean to you & your business?
What does it look like? From how you answer the phone, voicemail, email tone, your “uniform”, interaction with clients to leave behinds, swag to thank yous after a job.
How do I know how my clients feel about my services and interactions? (Tip: Send a quick, short email to find out!)
What can I do to create a personalized memorable experience for my clients? How can this also help me stand out from the competition? By doing both, you are creating a win-win situation for both you and your clients & customers.
How can I be more consistent in my customer & client service approach and process?
Each business has a personality which ultimately attracts specific types of clients to you and your brand. Really put thought into your approach and craft a client & customer service experience that reflects you, the uniqueness of your brand and appeals to your clients.
P. S. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you note, a gift card or just being very easy to work with!
As always, thank you for reading!
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