Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Minding the Business: Customer Service

When you're self employed, you're responsible for all aspects of running the business.  I run two small businesses, one is the creative beadmaking business that you're reading about here and the other is a freelance sign language interpreting business.    On the surface, they're two very different businesses but I've found there's a caveat they both share. Any business is only as good as its customer service.  What I mean by customer service, is as a business owner, I need to make sure my customers are taken care of. You might think they're only the people who buy my beads. They're not. They're my colleagues, my suppliers, and in my sign language interpreting business, they're the team interpreters I work with.

I haven't always understood that. If you're like me, you have a problem with no. I know I did. I did what everyone wanted me to do despite the overload it created on me. I thought that was customer service. I had to do what everyone else wanted me to do when they wanted it. I had to serve every whim at the most inconvenient time.

That's not customer service, that's exhausting yourself and then total collapse.

Set reasonable expectations and then stick with them. For example, my beads are handcrafted. I don't keep them in stock. I make them as they are ordered.

In my descriptions, I explain it may take up to two weeks for delivery. I've set my limits. Once I set my limits I'm able to respond to customers within the expectations I've set.

Have you set limits in your business?


Shel said...

Great post! I used to give customer service seminars at one of the businesses I work for - I really learned a lot, but when it came to my own business I used to never be able to say "no". It's getting easier and setting limits is the best 'customer service' and should be the first order of business for yourself and your customers!

Trish said...

You have no idea how much your post helped me this morning - and I wanted to thank you!

Juggling way too many hats lately, and trying, as you said, to 'do it all'. Your supreme common sense of setting your limits, and that it's ok really encouraged me to keep on keepin' on!

Just A Tish said...

Yes girl - learning to say no has been the most difficult and the most rewarding skill I have learned. This is a recent skill as well. I was over loaded with work, and with my business. A good friend of mine jumped into my butt with both feet and told me it is time to say no - he was sick of seeing me sick.

and i did - FREEDOM

Andrea said...

This is a message not only for business, but life. I am pretty exhausted these days from feeling like I can't do enough for everyone. It makes me all around less effective and able to cope, let alone pursue my passion. Which is to make and sell jewelry. I loved your picture. I often feel like I am tearing my hair out.

Anonymous said...

Great post - if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your customers!

Charlene said...

Sometimes saying no is the best gift we can give ourselves and others. Being depleted helps no one.