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What Do You Get When You Cross a Puppy Video With Downton Abbey? a Champion.

As a small business owner, I seek out and use tools to help with efficiencies – one of which is an online invoicing system, FreshBooks. I’m nothing more than a happy customer with a story to tell about how they engaged with and dazzled me.

Like many lawyers, billing is my least favourite activity. After much belly-aching, whining and sniveling with a colleague, I was referred to an online invoicing system that made this dreaded time-consuming task a little easier, and I’m now well underway.

On one particular recent evening, I settled in to start billing. All my billable time notations and expenses were in order and I just needed to get invoices out. But logging in to FreshBooks was – gasp! – met with a message of necessary site maintenance and a plea for patience while the system was unavailable. They also posted a link to a cute puppy video to distract us. Yes, a puppy video. It worked, and yes, it was very cute.

Later, when I did finally start the minutiae of my month end ritual, I had an epiphany. They have made a nuisance task easier, and dare I say, amusing. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for? To help our clients ease through a necessary task with ease and come out the other side unscathed?

In a moment of spontaneity I emailed their support to express my appreciation. You know, one of those silly and over-the-top, “Oh my gawd, I love you guys” notes. Their smooth and client-friendly service allowed me to complete my invoicing quickly — in plenty of time to watch Downton Abbey. Bonus!

This simple note led to a lively and somewhat hilarious exchange with my new pal, Rich, a.k.a. “Support Rockstar”, who responded to me within hours. Our online banter reminded me how fresh and responsive customer service can be. In his reply, Rich deftly wove humour and personal touches together with a key FreshBooks branding message – we’re all about making your life easier. His language and tone mirrored my own, and I have no doubt he could effortlessly move between chatty and crisp depending on the attitude of the client.

Clearly, it starts with hiring great people on the front lines (and elsewhere, too). They’re given authority to delight their customers, and are trusted to be spontaneous and responsive. It was at night when I fired off my thanks to FreshBooks. The next morning, I had a cheerful, enthusiastic, expertly branded response waiting in my inbox. “We’re crazy happy that you’re enjoying our system so far. We really do attempt to do everything possible to make invoicing and receiving payment as easy as it can possibly be.” Smiley faces throughout.

downtonIcing on the cake? Just two days later, a copy of Downton Abbey’s “Rules for Household Staff” arrived in my mailbox: “If we continue to make your life easier in terms of invoicing and getting paid,” wrote Rich, “you might have some time to kill before your show begins. Here’s hoping the book enjoyably fills some of that time you’ll have earned in the future.” Hilarious, creative and personal. He left me feeling like I was their most important customer ever.

This is customer service excellence – for any business. There are lessons here for all of us who value ongoing, loyal relationships with our clients. It’s also how you create champions. They raised our business relationship to a new level. I evolved from a happy customer, to a champion of their service.

The corporate tone at FreshBooks is uplifting and approachable. Call me a sucker, but I’m quite okay if my provider sugar-coats a service to make it more pleasant for me. And if online invoicing can be made almost fun, surely that frosting can sweeten client interactions anywhere, anytime.

It’s clear they make it their business to understand what their customers need and want. I think they obsess over it actually. In this touch-screen, push-button, digitally gratifying world, FreshBooks celebrates the importance of human-to-human contact. They don’t just process, move and store client comments, they truly engage and seek to build long-lasting relationships. They are human and respond with personality.

FreshBooks proved that a service for the most mundane task can be appreciated, even celebrated. Invoicing may be unexciting (reviled even), but communications around it can be animated and enjoyable, keeping clients coming back. Great rapport can lighten the dullest of loads.

Not only that, it’s easy to communicate with FreshBooks. The company promise speaks volumes: “Help is free forever, and you’ll always get a real, live human faster than you can say, ‘Wow, that was crazy fast!’”

Thanks, Rich. Well done, FreshBooks. That’s great customer service. :)

All this for less than $20.

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