This is a valuable lesson I learned from Corporate USA. Sometimes service providers just don’t live up to your expectations, so here are some tips to help you manage them.
So I just lost 3 days of productivity, a ton of money and gained a major headache due to much eyerolling. Why? Because I trusted the service providers to do their jobs and they suddenly didn’t meet my expectations.
Takeovers happen (in this case, 4 take overs in the last 10 years, 2 in the last 2) -yikes! When I place my business in their hands, I expect them to treat me like they would treat their grandmother. Instead, the overworked, undertrained, and unempowered bark at me as though I’m asking for their first born when all I want is to be reimbursed the last 3 months of credit card bills. Gah!
I’m going to show you how to manage your service partner for your current needs. Your needs change as your business changes and I don’t want you to endure the same nightmare.
Time is the Greatest Innovator
Face it, time is money. Time is the most important commodity we have. As much as we try to save, we still end up feeling like we’re wasting it. How do you know when your time is well spent? Certainly not when you spend time spinning your wheels and feel that you’re not you’re getting anywhere. That’s when it’s time to stop the clock and review what exactly is not working.
Get Personal and Remain Professional
As the 20th century advertising and marketing campaigns are being turned on their heads, a new form of marketing is taking place and it’s called engagement. Engagement can only happen when there’s conversation. Conversation happens when you’re listening twice as much as you’re talking. Here’s an interpersonal tip from family therapists:
They [therapists] recommend that you constantly talk to your partner throughout the day to highlight the ebb and flow of your emotions. Your moods provide a barometer of emotional welfare and a baseline for moving forward with encounters throughout the rest of the day. Going from the happy morning to absolute grumpy puss without any indication or exchange during the day can leave your mate feeling clueless. Staying in touch now and again helps you as a couple communicate on a deeper emotional level and you’re never, okay, rarely feeling out of touch.
How does this apply to your service partners? This idea of regular communication (forums, emails, online chat, etc) applies to managing your colleagues and service partners as well. If you continue to brief your partners with both issues and kudos (don’t forget to say thank you when you’re extremely happy with a product or service) then no one is left in the dark and asking, “How the Hell did this happen? I thought you were happy?”
The Proof is in the Proverbial Paper Trail
Regardless of ‘phone vs email vs forum’ preference that you may have, I implore you to use all of these in tandem as you do business online. You may not necessarily engage in all 3 simultaneously, but you will want record of conversations that take place. When you eventually make your decision to engage services for your service partner, follow these simple steps to establish your professional barometer.
- Set up your business account as thoroughly as you can including business name, logo(s), address, etc.
- Visit the forums again.
- Set up your profile inside the forums. They may ask you to set up your profile and I strongly encourage you to do it. Setting up a separate profile is common practice among service providers because their servers are different than their service servers where they host your business account.
- Please remember to upload your photo within your profile, too. Make it consistent among all the avatars you have on the interWebs -this is imperative. People connect with people, not logos. You show your smiley face and you’re automatically on the first base of trust.
- Be sure to populate your automatic signature. This promotes you quietly without the incessant need to shout “I make art, you should buy some -now!”
- Don’t have a consistent avatar? Read the entry on how to set up your Gravatar for the interWebs -you’ll be glad you did.
- Get familiar with the forum structure. Some may have an FAQ and/or requirements before posting. They’re essential to understanding how to navigate posts and how to be a good player in the discussion rooms.
- Read a few entries and find one that resonants with you. Make a comment or two to make sure your profile appears as you expect.
- Did you find a topic that constantly frustrates customers? Eventually, it may frustrate you, too, so be sure to bookmark or subscribe to the topic so that you can learn about the remedies the hosts are providing.
Go to the Top
When you call to ask questions about your account, you should be treated with the utmost respect. Don’t be afraid to ask for the supervisor if the chump on the other end of the phone is condescending, evasive, and makes undermining comments. I had to and it wasn’t pretty.
Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence