Customer Satisfaction

I have a satisfied customer. That’s not unusual, or even noteworthy, for most businesses. However, how I got a satisfied customer is worthy of a post.

I had been writing a bunch of scripts for this client over the course of the last 9 months. There have been ups and downs during the work, and last week, we finally produced a product that can increase their sales. Again, not terribly impressive, considering that I was hired to do exactly that.

Last week, once I had delivered on a significant piece of the project, I was presented with the next round of development for this project, in response to their customers’ requests. By the time my client had finished describing what they were looking for, I had turned his wish list into 3 categories:

  1. Can’t be done (because of the client’s systems and limitations therein). This did not make the client happy, but he understood that it was beyond my control.
  2. Can be done. This included a quick estimate of the time needed to build each item.
  3. Already done. The client was unaware that during the course of other development, I had anticipated some of his requests, and already built them. He was not billed extra for this, I had merely chosen a design that had maximum flexibility so that certain future requests would not require a full rebuild of the program.

It was the third category that gave me a satisfied customer. While customers do not want to pay for work they did not request, they are even happier when they discover that their dollar has gone further than they had initially thought. I have never had an issue with this client over the size of my bills, and they have always paid promptly. But when you take a customer who is already happy with you, and show them something extra that they didn’t know about before, you leave with a customer who will advocate your work for you.

The lesson I have learned from this is to do the following:

Whenever working for a client, try to add a feature to what you are doing without billing the client for the work. It does not need to be a large feature, but it should be a noticeable extra. When the client mentions their satisfaction with your work (which, if you maintain a high standard for your work, should happen with most, if not all, of your clients) point out the extra that you threw in. Stores have sales, specials, and discounts. As a service provider, you can have them too.

  • sol

    #3 is good if you can pull it off, but I have found that unless you are very VERY good at anticipating what your customer wants (or your crystal ball is unusually shiny that day), it’s not worth the extra. And then you have the customers who do NOT want the extra feature and insist on it being removed since it wasn’t spec’d in the first place. Again, unless you are damn sure you know what you’re doing, I’d try and avoid this.

  • sol

    …that should have read “…not worth the extra effor“.

  • sol

    …that should have read “…not worth the extra effor“.

  • ekochman

    As you point out, it should be something you can easily remove, and, of course, non-critical to the product. But since you’re giving it to them, if it’s non-intrusive, and does not open the program to ANY kind of security vulnerability (for example, throw in the ability for the customer to change the color scheme on their own, they don’t have to use it if they don’t want to), then most customers will say thank you.

  • ekochman

    As you point out, it should be something you can easily remove, and, of course, non-critical to the product. But since you’re giving it to them, if it’s non-intrusive, and does not open the program to ANY kind of security vulnerability (for example, throw in the ability for the customer to change the color scheme on their own, they don’t have to use it if they don’t want to), then most customers will say thank you.

  • sol

    #3 is good if you can pull it off, but I have found that unless you are very VERY good at anticipating what your customer wants (or your crystal ball is unusually shiny that day), it's not worth the extra. And then you have the customers who do NOT want the extra feature and insist on it being removed since it wasn't spec'd in the first place. Again, unless you are damn sure you know what you're doing, I'd try and avoid this.

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