How to treat your customers with respect.
A while back I received a super interesting question from a newsletter reader who asked me to go into how to communicate and interact with other creatives - based on their experience with shops being super friendly until you purchase, but then turning into that non-service-minded beast we all know.
I am taking a little bit of creative liberty here and slightly change the question - from “other creatives” to customers because I think how to interact with your customers is a topic that is so essential to running a creative business (and sometimes really hard).
Nevertheless, all these tips can (and should) be applied to communicating with creatives who are not your customers as well - be it artists you collaborate with, makers whose products you share on Social Media or anyone else you’re interacting with.
1. Be respectful (and kind).
I know getting the same questions over and over again can be tiring. But remember - your customers are your everything. They took their time to write you and ask a question they care about - appreciate that. This starts with thanking them for reaching out and goes on with helping them find the information they’re looking for, or figuring out a way to help them.
Yes, you can absolutely point them to a blog post, product description or video where you’ve answered their question - just be nice about it! Something like “Thank you so much for reaching out to me! I’d love to point you to a blog post of mine where I’ve answered your question in a lot more detail than an email would allow for. I hope it really helps you - and if it doesn’t, please don’t hesitate to reach out again!”
2. Be specific & share information.
A while back I got really annoyed at how a startup was handling their customer communications on Facebook. Answering questions with “You’ll see that in our next blog post.” or “We’ll update you when we know more.” is NOT good service. In fact, if I was the customer asking that questions, I would be really, really annoyed. Always be as specific as you can in your communication!
In this example, take the extra 2 min to write whatever you would have written in that blog post - it doesn’t hurt! Or ask your customer for their email address so you can send more information on a private channel.
3. Be timely.
Now, this does not mean you need to check Instagram, Etsy, and Facebook every five minutes just in case a new customer question comes in! But it does mean that you should do your best to check the channels you receive most questions or inquiries over at least once every day and write back to people.
If it’s going to take you a little bit of time to investigate and answer their question, write them a short note to let them know that you’ll get back to them! Nothing is more annoying than writing into that dark black hole of “no response land”.
4. Be all of the above no matter how much someone spends.
Now, this ties in with the original question - I think it goes without saying, but ALL OF THE ABOVE apply no matter whether a customer is buying from you or simply inquiring, whether they’ve spent already hundreds of bucks on your products or are asking about a freebie.
To me, it says a lot more how a company treats their potential customers - and the customers who are not paying a lot of money - than how they treat their well-paying customers. Treating everyone with the same respect and care they deserve indicates a decent human being and a decent company philosophy, whereas differentiating your approach to how you interact with customers based on how much they pay you smells like a money- and ego-centric business understanding.
It really isn’t hard to be kind and good to your customers. And it’s also fun - I am a decent human being, and I want to treat everyone who takes the time to check out my products and my services with respect. It’s just the right thing to do.