What’s Your SQ?

Having an impressive portfolio will certainly get the attention of prospective clients. But it’s no guarantee they will hire you. When it comes down to choosing one provider over another, what often drives a customer’s decision is the provider’s reputation for excellent service. No matter how good your design skills, if a client fears you will be unresponsive, distracted or difficult to work with, they will look to someone else to handle their project.

In the eyes of the client, your level of service translates into how much you value them. If you don’t answer phone calls, respond to emails or text messages, bill them for charges they don’t understand or believe they didn’t agree to, or get off schedule or budget with no warning or clear explanation, they will assume you don’t place much importance on them or their business. That can lead to bad feelings and complications down the line, from disagreements about implementing the project to dispute over invoices and negative reviews.

One way to assess your level of service is to compute your firm’s SQ – its service quotient, sometimes called the customer service quotient. Review the projects you’ve completed in the past month and give each of them a rating (from 1 = poor to 5 = outstanding) on key customer service areas, such as providing a clear and comprehensive written proposal for the project, timely response to phone calls and written communications, staying schedule and budget, adhering to stated work hours and delivery dates and times, etc. Now, do the same with areas where you fell short or received a complaint from the client (from 1 = minor to 5 = extremely serious).

If you are seeing a majority of 4s and 5s in your service ratings and mostly 1s and 2s in your problem ratings, your level of service is more than satisfactory. Otherwise, circle those areas where your service rating is low or your problem rating is high and work on improving them. When clients are happy with your service, they’ll also be more enthusiastic about the results you deliver.

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