Every Drupal developer heard stories of 'clients from hell' and collaborations that turned into nightmares. And, it’s true… you’re going to come across some extremely difficult clients. No matter you do, no matter how hard you work…you’re going to have problems with them.
Remind yourself: “I am not alone!”
All businesses – no matter what kind of company it is – face the same kind of customer service challenges. The best thing any of us can do is make light of the situation while fulfilling our obligations. This is why we need to focus on us for a time. Focus on us, and some of the common customer service issues we have to contend with. Yes, there are many of issues we’ll be faced with, but the ones we’re addressing right now are the more commonly heard complaints.
Now, as we go through each problem, we’ll provide you a way to evade or overcome them – a solution. After all, a happy client tends to equate a happy company bottom line. And, isn’t that what you want?
8 Commonly Heard Issues We Often Face In Customer Service
There is little doubt that the web development and design world is an interesting place. It’s got an array of creative aspects to it, luring more and more people into the field. It’s this competitiveness that brings people in. And, thanks to this type of environment, there are a plethora of ways to create a sustainable and profitable business.
Now, we can create a business that ensures the perfect balance of recurring and transactional revenue; but, we must ensure we follow the right steps to make this happen. In order to make sure we have this type of revenue, we must have a full appreciation of customer service.
Let’s look at what the American Express survey revealed in 2011.
That survey showed more than 90 percent of the respondents agreed good customer service will lead to repeat business. And, in that same survey, less than 33 percent of people believed companies were making changes in their attitude to better their customer service. Jump on this little known fact and you can surpass the competition.
What’s important for us to understand as a Drupal developer is to understand how we’re doing things wrong. Once we know our mistakes, we can look them look at how to address the issue. We don’t need the clients to help us do this. Rather, we have to focus on ourselves!
In fact, a Help Scout article shows us that 96 percent of our clients will not let us know when there is an issue. And, that’s an overwhelming number! This basically means that just four percent of our customers will reach out to us to let us know something good or bad. Doesn’t inspire confidence in you, does it?
However, it’s got a purpose. It’s a reminder that we have to address all our clients’ complaints and find ways to avoid the issues altogether.
What are some issues we face?
1 – I Did Not Order This
Have you ever ordered something from the Internet, based upon what the item looked like in the picture? You pay for faster shipping to ensure it gets here quick, only to find that what you get isn’t exactly what you ordered. There is no way that the item you ordered looks like the one in the picture.
You’re disappointed, as you should be because nobody likes getting something different from what they were expecting.
The same holds true for a project’s design. It can change as you create add on modules and content. Some elements don’t fit the way you imagined them to fit. Perhaps the pictures you want to include alter the navigation. Or, perhaps there’s an entirely new way to present the material. We know these changes make sense to us. After all, we are the developers. Our clients, on the other hand, don’t see it that way.
What we consider to be a work of art is something they may not be able to use.
The actual issue isn’t that we made the changes. The problem stems from our lack of communication with the buyer. We didn’t tell the buyer why we made the changes. Therefore, they feel they didn’t get what they paid for.
2 – Why Am I Unable To Make Changes For Myself
These days many products can be customized – from bicycles to cars to websites and print work. Since we’re accustomed to getting exactly what we want, people expect their websites to also be customizable. They want to have some semblance of control. Drupal, in a matter of clicks, is also customizable.
Now, most people want their customizations to be done in one click, and Drupal allows our clients the flexibility and control they’re looking for.
However, clients don’t know that changing the navigation background color can be done in mere seconds while changing the behavior of deep-nested sidebar menus is a more technical and difficult issue.
Talking to our clients ahead of time about what they can do easily on their own will relieve them of the stress. Even if they still don’t fully understand, they’ll appreciate the fact that we took the time out to explain it to them. If they really don’t have the understanding to do these changes for themselves, they’ll be relieved that they know someone who can do it quickly and get their business up and running faster.
3 – Your Deadline Has Passed
Deadlines are a fact of life – something we all need to abide by. However, we need to also accept the fact that things are not always in our control. Some clients will understand if you miss a deadline (one or two, here and there); other clients are not so understanding. And, for good reason. Deadlines, when you miss them, add stress to your clients. They depend on us to get their website up and running, allowing them to attract new customers.
It’s the whole “time is money” thing.
There are, however, things we can do to address those pesky deadline problems:
- When you give a deadline, be generous about it. Under promise and over deliver – if you have a deadline of 10 days do what you can to make it done in 5 days or less (if it’s doable). We do need to give ourselves a buffer zone to ensure every stage of the development process is properly addressed.
- We want to make sure our clients’ websites are up and running immediately, with content already developed. Be sure to ask the client for the material to develop the website quicker.
- We should have communication guidelines already laid out. If we need to email clients, we need to let them know by what date and time they need a reply. This is a matter of convenience for them and for us.
4 – You Didn’t Tell Me About Budget and Deadline Issues Before
Clients need to always be informed of potential issues before the deadline approaches. For instance, if we see the project is going above the budget allotted by our client, we need to let them know right away… not the day the project is due. Remember, we need to contact them via their preferred method of communication.
It’s imperative too we have a new deadline in place before we contact our client. Again, it’s a deadline you want to meet. Missing it means losing credibility. If you’re able, provide the client with work you’ve done up to this point. You want to show them that you have been working on their project.
Be sure to apologize.
A great way to ensure we meet our deadlines is to create a daily work schedule. If you’re not sure what this means, check our blog post https://www.sooperthemes.com/drupal-blog/how-drupal-developers-can-be-more-productive to learn how you can be more productive.
We always need to be mindful of our clients’ budget, and if we see we’re going to miss it, we’re going to need to let them know right away before starting on anything “extra”. You want to have their “go ahead” before do anything any of the extras.
5 – Making Yourself Clear With No Additional Explanations
When it comes to our clients, we need to explain what we’re doing and how long it’ll take to get things done. We need to explain this information in great detail so as to make sure they are on the same page as we are. If our clients demand a bigger logo, we need to let the designer know about white space, balance and visual hierarchy. It’s important we make them understand that the logo isn’t the key point.
Keep in mind that this must be done without coming across as aggressive or overbearing. Our client must still have a say in what they want but we have to make sure they understand everything about their order without the jargon or additional information confusing them.
Clear and concise!
6 – There’s A Mistake On My Invoice
There’s no one person who likes unexpected bills. As Drupal developers, we need to know how long it’ll take us to create a client’s website. Of course, each client’s circumstances and specs are going to differ, which will alter the time schedule.
Since most of our clients don’t understand the development stage, they don’t understand that a minor change can drastically affect the overall price. The best way we can handle the unexpected costs is to let our clients knows when they ask for the change. If they really want to make the change, they’ll be happy to pay the additional cost. But, if we surprise them when it comes time to pay, they may rebuff the cost. It’ll hurt our business and the relationship we tried so hard to build with them.
Of course, we may come across an issue where scope creep happens, which is an unexpected cost that wasn’t addressed in the initial budget. How can we handle this problem, make the client happy and be paid for the time we spent on dealing with?
- Give your client an in-depth quote that covers every part of the project along with your hourly rate for anything that’s not included in the contract.
- When you notice work that falls outside the realm of the approved scope, let the client know before you start the work. Give them a fixed or estimated cost. Let them approve or deny that cost.
- Be sure your client gets an invoice they expect.
7 – Why Do I Need Maintenance
Most clients don’t even realize their website is going to need continuous maintenance. In fact, many of them are unhappy to find out that they need to pay for a maintenance program. This type of expense is unexpected because they have the mindset of “build it and forget it!”
We don’t want them to be stuck in this realm of thinking. While we’re interviewing our client, make sure you mention the maintenance aftercare of their website. If you offer this kind of service, you need to quote them the maintenance fee. It’s up to us to make them aware of when the website needs updated and how often it must be updated.
8 – Is There Anyone Listening
Let’s think about A.E. survey we mentioned earlier. What we learned was that 90 percent of U.S consumers would rather talk to a live person. Most web developers, on the other hand, would rather talk by email. For that reason, we need to ask clients what their preferred method communication is.
Communication problems are not just a developer issue; it’s societal one. Most folks refuse, for whatever reason, to talk to one another and to listen. If we’re going to be different, we must listen to our clients. When we listen, they actually pay attention.
We need to let our clients know that we’re available when they need us. Imagine hiring someone to do a job for you and then disappearing. We don’t want our clients to think we’ve done this to them. We need to be the developer that helps our clients. How would we feel if our client paid us a small amount of money to start a project and they don’t pay us for the rest? It’s the same thing!
How do we solve this little conundrum to deal with all our Drupal-related problems then?
6 Ways To Solve Your Drupal Development Problems.
Communication is the key… to ensure the best possible outcome for Drupal developers. The lack of communication between buyer and developer can become costly mistakes. However, there are six easy ideas that’ll bridge the communication divide.
- Make them a priority, being available whenever they have questions or concerns.
- Share your personal email or cell phone number to be available when they need it.
- Establish a communication system and use a project management software like Basecamp or Trello
- Hold weekly/bi-weekly meetings that lets the review the progress and answer questions or concerns.
- Update clients, even when you don’t feel there is any new details to address
- Create a communication guideline for clients, ensuring they abide by them. If you have questions about the project, seek a reply within a certain amount of time.
What We All Should Remember:
We can expect to run into client issues from time to time. However, with constant communication, we can mitigate the chances for repeated problems. Even if we don’t hear about mistakes, it doesn’t mean problems don’t exist.
Successful projects begin and end on one thing: