For most of us in the service industry, we love the service we get to provide, but aren’t too keen on the “customer service” portion. Your business success often depends on the well-oiled machine that is not just your designs, but your interior design firm’s customer service.
Sometimes, our promises to meet client’s demands, end us up here…
As an interior design HR professional (enter shameless self-promotion), I’ve seen A LOT of designer’s end up in not-so-financially favorable positions because they are in a hostage situation with a client.
Here are some steps to preventing the sticky “do as I say or I will destroy your rep” situation…
Outline every possibility in your contract.
For instance, make sure to put a termination clause in there – what happens if you are let go? What responsibilities fall on the client? Clients will typically understand that as a business, you have an obligation to protect yourself against the unseen. If everything is laid out from the beginning, boundaries are set and your client has a clear understanding of what is to be expected. This also gives you a signed agreement to quote and refer back to later should anything go awry.
A great interior design contract will map out every detail of how your relationship will work before, during and after the project.
Keep a Paper Trail
Quicky phone calls are often super time efficient, but they could come back to bite you later. Keep everything in writing. If a phone call is appropriate, make sure to send a follow up email outlining the details of what was discussed. Taking this small extra step will give you the written proof you may need later for conflict resolution.
Face conflicts head-on.
IF a problem does arise, fix it. Confront problems right away, so they don’t become bigger later. Always keep an open-honest line of communication with your client – build that trust. It’s important for us to keep our clients stress-free, but not at the cost of your business.
The above are just tools in your toolbox should a client try to hold you to something that may be out of your control completely. Use them to calmly and politely find a solution that doesn’t throw your business under the bus, or leave your client feeling abandoned. It will also, hopefully, give you the tools necessary to prevent bad online reviews.
Remember, there is a difference between customer service, and customer servitude.
C&J HR TeamTags: HR, Interior Design