• The work environment calls for customer service no different from formal jobs
The Legal Information Institute describes a freelancer as someone who is not employed by any organisation but is an independent contractor who gets paid on a per-job basis.
“A freelancer enjoys the benefits of working at home, having flexible hours and choosing projects that interest them,” the Institute states.
“However, freelancers do not enjoy the benefits of working for an employer, which includes insurance and retirement plans.”
As self-employed service providers, freelancers experience the same challenges regular businesses face, such as difficult clients, clients who demand too much for little pay, and those who do not provide adequate instructions. This calls for skills in customer service among freelancers. Here are some pointers:
1. Ensure clear communication
Poor communication can ruin relationships, potentially resulting in lost sales and a damaged reputation. The more you can find out about a client's needs, wants, interests and situations, the easier it is to reach win-win or mutually beneficial outcomes. You learn more about clients by asking good questions and by taking the time to genuinely listen to their answers.
2. Be a good listener
It's one thing to ask good questions, but it's another to take on board the answers. You can often be distracted by your own thoughts, your next move or what you should say next, or trying to second-guess where the other party might be leading you. To listen effectively, you need to suspend these internal thoughts and give your full attention to the speaker. Only then can you understand what they're saying.
3. Make a good first impression
The way you introduce and present yourself provides people with a first impression of you. In business, consider what impression you would like to make. Dress and groom yourself appropriately for that meeting.
4. Practise good phone etiquette
A great deal of business communications is completed via phone. Phone communication requires active listening skills and asking the right type of questions to ensure you have heard and understood the message your counterpart wants to share. Even if you are busy, it is important to allow time for the other person to speak without interrupting them. Consider sending an email as a follow-up after an important phone call to put in writing the matters discussed.
5. Adapt to video calls
The biggest challenges for video calling are lack of data connectivity and bandwidth issues, which can cause delays, a lag in audio and poor video quality. To mitigate these challenges, test your microphone, audio and video settings before joining the video call meeting. Ensure you have enough lighting so when people look at you on their screens, they can see your face properly. Check your screen before sharing it. Confidential or embarrassing information can damage your credibility.
6. Brush up on writing skills
Much of the business communication you engage in will involve emails, documents, letters and reports. Although you have more time to prepare written communications, writing well for business is no less important than other forms of communication. You should be polite and clear in what you're asking or saying to another party, particularly if your written communication requires follow-up action.