A successful business requires two main things; a point of differentiation, and a high level of customer service. While finding your POD is easy, and oftentimes obvious (a new SEO charging less than his competition); what many techies forget is that customer service is the ultimate comprehensive business term.
Oftentimes, developers or marketers with exceptional skill fall victim to the idea that a superior product will speak for itself. On the surface, that seems like a safe assumption to make, but often you hear the saying “bullshit walks.” I’m writing to tell you that customer service is oftentimes much more important than the service you provide, and I have figured out the secret to elite customer service; consistency.
Consistency starts at the moment you first speak to a client over the phone. It stems from a good sales pitch, and from selling your service properly. If you want to have elite customer service, you need to understand the three principals of a good sell.
I’ve heard varying arguments about using honesty in your sales pitch. What I mean when I mention honesty is not an outright lie, but more akin to “know your limits.” Many SEO professionals when they first start to do freelance work are too eager to please their clients. They feel threatened if they don’t have the required skillset; and decide that they will take any job, no matter the size or scope.
What usually results is a sub-par deliverable. Just because you happen to know a guy that does development, doesn’t mean that you do WordPress development. Something important to understand is that your work is unique; each developer has his or her own signature style, and another developer that goes and looks at the code will recognize when you’ve delegated some of the work.
In all honesty, I fell victim to this very issue on my second job. It was only until I started being blatantly honest that my customers become more satisfied, and even understood if they had to pay for an hour of research time. If you claim to know everything, your clients are going to want a set price, and a set deliverable date that you might not be able to meet.
Do yourself a favor; just be honest from the very start. When your client knows exactly what they are signing up for, then you have them on your side throughout the process.
2) Don’t Have a “Catch” to your Service
This point is related to being honest, but in a very different way. This form of honesty is extremely important to managing client expectations, and your own reputation.
At Customer Paradigm, we see many clients come in the door that have worked with another SEO firm in the past. Most commonly, their previous SEO experience was with a company that “guaranteed” results. For example, you can pick 5 keywords to improve, the SEO Company chooses 5 keywords, and if at the end of the month the aggregate is positive, you pay a certain set fee.
What ends up happening is that even if you choose a very competitive keyword for your choices, they will pick extremely low hanging fruit to hedge their bets. For example, lets assume that you sell pet products, and you wish to rank for the extremely competitive term; “pet supplies.” The SEO firm may choose to optimize for “pet supplies near new york city” as one of their keywords. Since that keyword gets no traffic, it is extremely easy to gain rank for them.
When the company that you are servicing finally brings in another consultant, it only takes 2 minutes with the Adwords Keyword Tool to figure out your catch. Although you aren’t in breach of your contract, the client will feel that they were duped, and your name is tarnished. If you have yet to figure out sustainable systems to gain rank for your clients, don’t resort to this trickery.
3) Use Real Data
This one seems obvious to SEO producers, but far too often people selling SEO don’t base their pitch on real data. Sometimes, this can be done without consequence, but more often than not, a client will shop around your proposal before signing a contract.
If, during this process, they find that some of your claims aren’t backed up by real facts, you will lose the client. There is nothing more important during a sale than to gain the trust of your prospective client, and that starts from the very beginning.
Sometimes, you just have to admit that a site doesn’t need your expertise, and they will respect you more for it.
Pete Wise is a White-Hat SEO Jedi working for Customer Paradigm; the leaders in US-Based Magento Development and Magento SEO. If you liked the article, there are plenty more bits of information on our blog, or contact us now for a quote! Follow Pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache