Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.
Hospitality, the art of making guests feel treasured and welcomed, is the core dictum of the service industry. However, hospitality is not just crucial to the tourism and hotel industry, but also in the web design and development industry as well. Hospitality in the web industry is more than just meeting the needs of the design brief, but also making your clients feel happy and comfortable in entrusting their projects with you.
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It isn’t just about the end product, but the journey taken to get to the end of the road. Having a good working process with your clients, exceeding their expectations, and creating good memories with them is the basic hospitality we should give to our clients.
Why Good Service is Good Business
With the rapid growth of the web industry, competition has become much tougher and sometimes even aggressive. It is at a time like this that having good customer relations and giving clients that something extra is now essential to help differentiate you from your competitors. You need to have a substantial competitive advantage over others; and being hospitable can help you achieve that.
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It is a simple marketing method you can apply to achieve client satisfaction. The good news is that you don’t need to go to big lengths to have a positive outcome. Remember that happy clients are easier to manage and more likely to be returning customers. In fact, word of mouth is another powerful marketing tool that can only be achieved by first impressing your current clients.
The Win-Win Situation in Educating your Clients
The eternal question constantly on the minds of clients; “How much do you charge for each page of a website?” This question is one you’ve probably heard so many times that you’ve gotten tired of repeating yourself to clients. However, making things clear to potential clients from the start will prevent unnecessary headaches once production has begun.
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What does your client need to know and understand so that both of you can work together effectively?
Remember that your clients will most likely lack the basic knowledge you’re you have. After all, they are seeking your expertise regarding the web design and development. What may seem as common sense and basic knowledge to us, clients might not understand. As such, be patient when they ask questions that might come across as common knowledge or even seem superfluous to us.
Create a Mutual Understanding
The best way to resolve any issue regarding costs after production has commenced, clearly explain that web pages are not charged by page. Prepare a simple questionnaire for them to fill. The following should be included:
- The objective and main function of the site
- Target audience
- Features needed
- Materials they can provide (images, content, audio, etc.)
Getting them to think about the above points will help you to better understand your clients’ needs. It will also help your clients to understand what they want to achieve with the web site, as well as to realise the kind of work and effort that goes into the building of a web site. This mutual understanding will help ensure that there is ample and clear communication between the client and you.
Keep it Simple
Don’t use design and technical jargons with your clients because their level of web knowledge might not be substantial enough. Using jargons your clients can’t understand will not only alienate them, but will also negatively affect your communication with them. If you have to use jargons, limit your use of them and do your best to explain what those jargons mean in ways they can easily comprehend.
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Be sincere and explanatory, but be careful not to sound patronizing or haughty. This will help them feel comfortable when communicating with you. Establishing a good rapport and communication with your clients will help them to feel safe and in good hands. This in turn may result in their recommendation of your services to other departments within the company or even to other companies.
Extra Service with a Smile
Often times, your client might make small requests like a small graphic change or even something as simple as getting an extra DVD copy. Happily obliging these small requests for free or even for a discounted fee, depending on the type of request, speaks volume for your service reputation. Some may consider this as being unprofessional and sees it as a bad thing.
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However, the fact of the matter is, if your clients return to you with future projects, this is something positive and not bad at all. If the requests are reasonable and not too difficult to accomplish, by all means offer this extra service with a smile. This is a value added service that is a superb way to build a good and lasting relationship with your client. This extra service may be what clients remember you for and help them easily make the decision to return for future collaborations.
Reflect and Evaluate
Reflect on both the successful and inactive client files you have accumulated over the years and evaluate the reasons behind those unsuccessful bids despite all the hard work you put in. Assess current and previous successful projects and remember your past clients. Do not assume that they will naturally remember you and will continue to work with you. If you do not maintain and continue to develop the relationship positively, you still face the danger of losing them to someone else.
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Consider the reasons why you have not heard from these clients. There can be countless reasons, but the most common complaints or reasons you will hear are:
- Your services are too expensive
- Competitor’s offer is much cheaper
- You don’t care about our concerns
- Complaints go unanswered
If your competitors feel one or more of the reasons mentioned above, it is not surprising if they choose to give the job to your competitors instead of entrusting you with it.
Work on your Working Relationships
All relationships need to be well maintained to be lasting and harmonious. The relationship you have with your clients is considered a working relationship. Similar to any other relationship, it needs to be nurtured in order for it to develop or grow. Here are some ways to sustain this working relationship with your clients.
Everyone appreciates being remembered. During the festive seasons, it is sure to brighten up your clients’ day if you send them a lovely e-card or a mailer. It will also help remind them that you are still around and still remember and appreciate the relationship you share.
Constantly Improve your Service
Just like restaurants that frequently update and change their menus, you can consider restructuring or updating your services. Email your clients with an eye-catching newsletter to inform them about it. Your new or added services might be the push factor for them to come back to you for projects.
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We all love sales! Few can resist the draw of a sale. Consider having an annual discount on your service, or even help your previous customers feel special by offering them an added discount or a bonus to return to you for future projects.
No Love with Bad Service
Before your business can grow, you must realise that the key component of good marketing is in the amount of time and effort you spend nurturing customer relationships. Web design and development has, in many ways, become part of a service industry. Serve with a smile and be genuine. It’s always good to make new friends and expand your networks. Transform your clients into friends. Friends with good working relationships do great work.