I am very excited. I am close to revealing my shiny new website, which I shall undoubtedly promote via a future blog. But today I wanted to share the experience of how I happened to sign up for a new site when I had what I thought was a perfectly good, informative and stylist web presence already. It was for me, a lesson in sales which I found very curious and I wondered whether I could steal any of the techniques for my own use.
The sale process started as one of many approaches I have had on linkedin, since starting up my own business. I have had numerous people seeking to connect with me, offering their experience in using networks to generate sales, coaching services or accounting support for the sole trader.
There were two aspects about this particular approach that set it apart from the others and intrigued me, however. First, the individual was listed as a ‘freelance web developer’ – so I had some empathy about the tribulations of working alone – and second, she offered to create a fee sketch of the new website ahead of a call. I replied, explaining that I was quite happy with my website and that I had little money to spend on a new one, but curious to see the design – on the basis that I was very unlikely to commission the work, certainly at this stage. Notwithstanding my reservations, a video call was booked in to show me the sketch.
The first curiosity was that when I signed into the web session with freelancer ‘Rebecca’, I was instead met by two individuals from a Swedish corporate web design agency. I have to admit to feeling a little duped – that empathy with a fellow sole trader gone – and certainly my wariness levels were raised. Nevertheless, they lived up to their promise and showed me a design that was much more professional than my home-designed attempts and as they explained the logic to the flow and functionality. I was sold.
The second curiosity was the on-boarding process. First, all communication had to go through an online system called Basecamp. The review and amend process was very proscriptive – in fact there was a video demonstrating what to do and not to do and there were financial penalties for missing meetings – on both sides!
Finally, I never saw the individuals with whom I have been dealing. In these days filled with Zoom/Teams calls video seems to be the norm, so it seemed strange to hear a faceless voice whilst viewing the latest iteration of my site.
The entire process made me think about our expectations for client service and wonder whether in an increasingly digitised environment those expectations will be challenged or changed. For me, trust resides at the very heart of good client service and for trust to occur there needs to be proximity and a mutual negotiation to establish the relationship.
In my web example, there was neither proximity nor mutuality – it was very much those are the terms, take it or leave it. Yet there was a feeling of efficiency, productivity and positivity about the process which seemed to overtake my concerns in relation to trust. Indeed, one of the testimonials on the web designer’s own website says: “incredibly fast, solution-oriented, curious and positive to work with.”
In checking out whether my views on customer service were outdated I looked to my friendly google for inspiration and was overwhelmed with articles on what good customer service looks like. One seemed to summarise it nicely though: “Good customer service has four key qualities: It’s personalized, competent, convenient, and proactive. These four factors have the biggest influence on the customer experience.” My experience scored highly against those factors and even though it wasn’t a personal experience as such, the work was very much personalised to my requirements.
So perhaps it is time to rethink the traditional expectations of customer service or, more likely, adapt and enhance for an increasingly digital experience.
Oh, ending on a P.S. – whilst drafting this post, Basecamp notified that the site is now live!