Do your clients treat you as if you’re IT support when you’re not? Do they send you angry emails because they can’t download your files, get access to your online events or generally use the tech that we all rely on to do our jobs now? Do they skim-read over simple instructions and contact you to ask what to do instead?
If so, read on because I have some solutions for you!
What may be going on
Sometimes people feel an initial burst of frustration when tech doesn’t work and unleash it on the first person who might be able to help. So although it can feel like it’s personal, often it isn’t. You’re just the first person in the firing line who they think can help. When this happens to me (and as someone who was an IT trainer for many years, it happened a lot!) I stay quiet and let them vent for a while. After that, I get them to explain the problem step by step. Sometimes they’ll realise the problem is that they’ve forgotten to do something simple, will answer the question themselves, and it’s all over. If not at least you have some facts to work with and they will be calmer now!
If you’re asked the same things over and over…
Tired of answering the same question repeatedly? Write up a set of frequently asked questions or a mini tutorial, post it on your website and then link to it so you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. This may also encourage the person to check your website before contacting you immediately next time.
A video demo many work even better than text, and is easy to make for free with Loom.
Also, look at your process for any gaps that your clients may be falling through. For example, I have a client who had multiple emails asking for the Zoom link for her online event. As registration was done using Eventbrite, attendees were sent an Eventbrite link rather than a Zoom one, but because they expected a Zoom link that’s what they looked for. So we added the line ‘Please look out for an email with an Eventbrite link in it’ in bold to her email sequence…and the questions stopped.
Check your boundaries
Your clients may expect a response within minutes, but you don’t have to provide that unless you want to. In fact, if you start off responding within minutes you set the expectation that you’ll do that in future, and that can cause practical problems as well as a feeling of resentment.
Better still, set your expectations right from the beginning when you onboard your clients. If you’ve agreed that you’ll respond within 24 hours, then there’s no pressure to respond to an emotional client immediately. You can let them calm down and maybe find their own solution before you respond. Although if it’s an urgent problem then of course you might want to fix it right away.
Sometimes clients will think that because you’e an expert who uses a computer, you can fix any IT problem. Remember that it’s OK to refer them on to other professionals if you’re being asked to do something outside your area of expertise.
And if a client is repeatedly rude, disrespectful and demanding then you can always part company with them. It’s up to you.
Get helpdesk software
This might sound like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but hear me out. There are lots of advantages to asking your clients to log their queries in helpdesk-style software.
- All your queries are in one place, where you can monitor them and check them off when solved. No more digging around in your inbox.
- You can set up an automatic email to reinforce your boundaries e.g. ‘ Thank you for submitting this case, I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours’.
- For some clients, they may take a bit more time to put together a step-by-step message rather than firing off a ranty email.
- You can log out at the end of your business hours. It’s easier to resist out-of-hours than an email inbox.
- You can hand the whole thing over to your tech support person when you’re ready to hire one, rather that trying to separate all this out from your bulging inbox.
When I sold information products online I used the free version of Freshdesk and it made my life so much less stressful! Ideally, you want to work towards having this as part of your CRM, so you have a record of all the communication you’ve had with each client and prospect. But any helpdesk-style tool is likely to be better than your inbox, and you can upgrade over time.
In my Free Business Toolkit I have lots of ways to help you streamline your interactions with clients – and save your sanity at the same time! Click here to sign up.