If you are an independent writer, it is likely that you have been asked one or more of these annoying questions, and usually by people who have not read any of your books. These are questions that are “meant to happen” at one point or another, so might as well have some fun answering them.
Question: Why do you write?
Answer: Why do you breathe?
Question: Are you really published? I mean not self-published.
Answer: Do you own the company you work for?
Question: Do you make any money doing that?
Answer: How much money do you make at your job?
Question: What is your real job?
Answer: What is your life purpose?
Question: Is it true that self-publishing killed literature?
Answer: Is it dead? Oh, my sincere condolences.
It is probable that you have been asked at least one of the questions above mentioned. Instead of becoming annoyed, have fun answering them. I invite you to share some of your own.
The busy Holiday Season has ended and a new year is here. For those who are independent contractors it means a fresh new start and the continuation of past business. Keeping clients isn’t easy, whether you do retail or offer a service. You have to find that balance that makes clients happy as well as yourself. But what are the things that make your clients/customers go Wow?
- Attention to detail – I have found that this is very important in keeping your customer happy. It goes beyond good and basic customer service. You can be polite and go thru the motions of the sale, but when you take a good look at what your customer likes and strive to magnify that a bit, you are putting some love into the sale or service. It is popularly called “going the extra mile;” however, you can go the extra mile out of duty or you can walk it loving it – there is a difference – and there is the balance. To put it into perspective, when you give attention to detail, your packages are neat, extra well-packed, beautifully wrapped, and you include a little something special inside for your customer – they will remember you for that. The online world has open many retail opportunities for online shops, and this is good. However, I have seen many things that I don’t consider desirable; for example, receiving an item packed in a cereal box without any lining in it or any extra layers of protection. I am all for recycling and saving the planet, but if you need to use a cereal box, you can pretty it up by wrapping/camouflaging it with some nice paper, putting some tissue inside to protect the item … and so on. Recycle but also Upcycle.
- Being honest – Honesty in business goes far, and customers/clients notice. Maybe for you, the extra dollar in shipping doesn’t make much difference, but it does to a customer. These days, shipping packages is expensive, online sellers know that, and many times, they cannot compete with the free shipping or low shipping deals that other large companies offer. The way I see it, it is not about competing but about being different, and you do that by refunding the difference if shipping was less and eating up the cost if it was more than you quoted. Customers will notice and they will thank you for that, usually.
- Giving the Royal Treatment – Even if you operate a very small online store, you can treat your customers as royalty. Strive for an excellent shopping experience in all levels – communication, delivery of the product, and resolving any issues that may arise. From offering tracking numbers, returns, and striving for making your customer happy at the end, there are many ways to wow your customers. If you offer a service, excellent communication practices and prompt delivery, as well as following up are key.
- Saying Thank You – This is one of the most important things that you can do, whether you work an online business, brick and mortar store, or are an independent contractor. It says to the customers/clients that you value and appreciate their business – in other words, you don’t take them for granted. You are stepping away from the “clerk treatment” so common at the street and letting your customers know that they are appreciated and that you would like to continue serving their needs in the future. You do this by thanking them verbally, sending an email or a personalized card, including an appreciation gift or a discount coupon, and most important, following up with them briefly. There are as many ways as far as your imagination can go.
- Personalizing the sale – This is of most importance, at least in my eyes. Treating customers as people and not as dollar signs is what it means. You can chat up a storm with a client and ask many questions to find common ground, but if you still see that person as a dollar sign, you will give that vibe back to him/her – everything is energy and energy passes thru. Instead, think of a way in which you can truly help that customer with his/her need. If a customer/client came to you, it is because there is a need and it is up to you to find a way to please that customer. Next time, he/she can go somewhere else. These days, there is a whole worldwide of choices out there in the concrete world and in cyberspace. So, when a customer visits your online site or your brick and mortar store, be honored that they have seen your tiny dot shining in this huge retail universe.