Picture by Anna Dziubinska
First of all, I would like to thank you all for the kind comments I have received from you regarding the last three articles I have written on Customer Experience. It’s great to know that you find it as interesting as I do.
After spending some time looking at some of the strategies a few big brands were implementing in order to improve their customer experience, we’re going to cover practical tips that you, as freelancers, can apply to your small business.
1) Know who you are and what you stand for
That’s a basic one really, but it will play a huge role into many aspects of your business. Before you start thinking of the experience you want your customers to have, think about who you are and how you want to be perceived on a professional level. Each company is unique and has its own approach and one that works for a firm might not suit your own business. Here are a few key concepts you should think over:
- Organization culture: What is your philosophy business-wise? What are your principles and ethics? What do you and what does your business stand for?
- Company history: Did you create your own business or do you work at a company? Freelancers will most likely run their own business and will therefore be in charge of every aspect of it. This will make things easier as you’re starting from scratch and you don’t have to take over a brand or a company that already existed before (along with its customers, philosophy, collaborations, etc.).
- What your business does: what services do you offer and how? Which industry do you work with and in? (think about your specializations too!) What are the standards of those industries? Who are you competitors and how do they work? And most importantly, how will you differentiate yourself?
2) Know who your customers are…
… and adapt your strategy depending on their identity. As freelancers, we often deal with a very wide range of clients – from big agencies that only seem to employ PMs too busy to get personal to smaller and friendlier agencies and direct clients. How do you make sense of this maze then? My advice would be to see the matter as a case-by-case issue. Indeed, not all customers want the same thing. Without generalizing too much, project managers tend to be more focused on respect of deadlines and instructions, whereas direct clients would be more inclined to develop a personal bond with you – they will want to see if they can trust you –, especially if your collaboration with them is in for the long run. To put it simply: with agencies, there will always be someone to review your work, and you’re just one piece of the puzzle, whereas you get the full package with direct clients, with all the responsibilities that this entails. It is thus important to know who your customers are… and also what they want! By being aware of their needs, you will more easily answer them in a satisfying way and will exceed their expectations (which is what it’s all about!).
3) Set yourself some high standards and stick to them
As freelancers, we might trick ourselves to think that we’ll always be less __________ (fill in the blank) than big companies. But that’s not true, of course! Freelancing can be a real advantage when it comes to business and it doesn’t have to be shabbier than any other entity in business. So once, we’ve acknowledged that fact, the next step would be to prove it to the customers. I keep repeating on this blog that it is highly important to take you and your business seriously (not too seriously, of course!) because that’s only how your clients will do too.
Setting yourself some high standards is a great way to show:
- your clients that you care – genuinely so.
- that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.
- that they can rely on you for anything linguistics-related (because sometimes, you’re the only person they know in our oh so obscure field!)
- that you have ethics (and this is extremely important when you get to translate confidential documents)
4) Get personal…
This is linked to my previous point. You’re not a robot and you don’t have to send automated replies like bigger companies might do. That’s your advantage right there. As a freelancer, you have the ability to create a customized approach as you adapt to the client you are talking to and to the needs they have. I recently read an interesting article about Big Data that argued that small businesses were better off than big companies when it comes to knowing who they are selling to. Think about it: you know who your client is, you know their name, you know their preferences and they will certainly let you know should they have a problem with your services. There’s no intermediaries here, it’s just you and the (direct) client. Perfect world?
5) … and emotional
No, I’m not saying you should get all emotional and share all your sorrow with your client. Instead, you have to connect to them on an emotional level. Why? Because emotions drive everything we do. There’s one quote by Maya Angelou that couldn’t be more perfect for the topic:
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
If customers remember how you and your services made them feel during their first experience, and if it was a positive feeling (i.e. they felt engaged), they will most likely come back to you. So which emotions should you aim at? Trust and empathy are one of the main emotions every business owner should target. Indeed, it is believed that sales will go up if customers see your company as a trustworthy one and if you feel empathy towards their problems.
So that is it from me on the subject of customer experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I did! If you would like me to cover a particular topic in relation to customer experience, feel free to let me know!