17 March 2012

“Seminar” - Service With a Smile

Come on in. Take a seat. We’re about to get started.
I like this auditorium. There is nothing but front row seats.

Today, we’re here to talk about customer service. Why should a writer be concerned with customer service? I’ll address that shortly.

Let’s start with something important. We need to define customer service. I’m not talking about the vague dictionary definition. I mean the workable definition.

Customer ServiceDeveloping a relationship between two or more parties for the purpose of exchanging of goods or services.

That works for our needs. It contains many important phrases we need to look at in order to understand why the definition is important.

It talks about developing a relationship. That actually is an important step for customer service. Many companies claim they are oriented toward customer service, yet they lack the actions to prove it. Customer service is not about getting the customer, getting their money, then getting rid of the customer. Repeat sales are unlikely in that environment. See most pushy car salespeople for examples.

It also mentions the exchange of goods and services. Consider a visit to the deli counter at the grocery store. If you go at the same time every week, you’ll usually encounter the same counter person. A relationship develops as you get meat and cheese and they get money. They call you by name. Eventually, you might even make sure only to go when this person works, so they can work you the best deal.

Good customer service with a smile.

Let’s link this to writing now. Think about the two items that the writer sells – Their writing and themselves. This is especially true with the new self-publishing revolution overwhelming the reading public.

I see the questioning looks.

Writing is only half the sales equation for a writer. Good writing works to get you in the door. However, it’s the writer themselves that make the full impact.

In the past, publishing houses had marketing groups to work with writers and bookstores to push books, establish images. However, back then, the pace was slower. It took time for people to write letters, mail them, and wait for them to travel. Everything is at instant access in the modern world.

Get a review – react to it as the writer posts it.

This is very dangerous for the modern writer. Early in the internet’s existence, new users were taught to walk away from a bad email. Take a breath. Write out the email for your first reaction, and then delete it. Instant still took time.

With the web and high speed connections in the home, or in the pocket, there is no chance to walk away. It’s right there, all the time.

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of authors who blow up at bad reviews. While this creates a temporary spike in sales, it hurts their overall sales. Now, people will think twice about reading from an author whom they won’t know if said author is going to go ballistic because of something they say about the book.

Just as companies and businesspeople must put forward a positive image, so too must a writer. It's worse for the writer. The company image they project is their own person. For good customer service, we can’t let our emotions react to a review.

Absorb the review. Then step away from the computer. Leave the smart phone on the dresser for a while.

Take 24 hours to think about the points the reviewer mentioned. Calm your raging frustrations at their inability to understand.

Show your business side. When you go back, thank the reviewer for their time. They are providing a service as much as you are. Take a moment to address their questions, in polite, constructive comments. Then thank them again.

At that point, you’ve completed the task and need to just walk away.

You’re customers, aka your readers, will appreciate the professional image you project, and possibly become repeat customers.

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