People still value the personal touch when it comes to business, and as a self-employed professional, this gives you an advantage when it comes to building great customer relationships.
However, those relationships need to be managed properly. It needn’t be time-consuming, but you do need to get the basics of good customer relationship management right.
Respond promptly – even if you’re declining
The self-employed people most likely to get ahead are the ones who are responsive to customers.
You need to make sure you’re able to respond promptly to incoming enquiries, even if you have to decline the work because you don’t have enough time for it.
And you won’t spot those enquiries in the first place if your voicemail is full or your inbox has 10,000 unread messages.
Always log the details of every job
You also need to keep a record of the customers you accept and the details of the work that has been agreed. Don’t just assume you’ll remember it all later.
We find self-employed business owners often rely on draft emails or saved notes outlining the conversations they’ve had with clients. It’s a bit disorganised and can mean you forget about a job altogether, show up somewhere at the wrong time, or show up with the wrong equipment.
Even if these disasters don’t occur, your customers will still see that you’re disorganised (as you’ll probably ask the same questions twice), and they’ll end up feeling less able to rely on you.
Old and new world solutions
To stop these problems from happening, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) database.
But don’t panic – this doesn’t have to be complicated. A straightforward option is to keep a spreadsheet with all of your customer details – and records of their previous jobs – that you can update from your desk as you go along.
Investing in a tablet could also come in handy so that you can update your database while you’re out and about. Of course, you can do this from a smartphone, but most spreadsheet software doesn’t display that well on smaller screens.
We’ve even seen some self-employed people buying old-school Filofaxes to record and manage their client details!
Choosing the right CRM technology
There are also plenty of CRM software platforms that will organise and manage your clients for you.
Don’t choose one that’s designed for larger companies. Instead, you need a simple, focused tool that covers the essential aspects of good customer management – such as tracking key details about your current and past customers, their payment histories, and any upcoming appointments/work needed.
With our business management app, you get a single portal for your essential client information and contact details. You can even call, text, email and WhatsApp customers without leaving the app – great if you need to reschedule something at short notice.
CRM tools won’t be needed by everyone. But if you work for a large number of customers, often on an irregular or ad hoc basis, a bit of extra tech could certainly help you build better relationships.