7 Customer Service Rules for Better Post Production
COW Library : Business & Career Building : Kylee Peña : 7 Customer Service Rules for Better Post Production
No matter how you get into post production — a lifelong love of movies, an accidental college experiment, or something in between — you have certain…expectations about the career. Before you get sucked too far down the rabbit hole, it seems like a nice, quiet, solitary job with minimal human interaction that relies heavily on your technical abilities.
And then, a few years down the road, you have a (hopefully not horrifying) epiphany: this isn’t the world you were promised at all. In fact, it’s not solitary in the least. It’s highly collaborative, based upon copious networking, and your people skills are what sets you apart from the crowd.
You, your peers, and clients hire people because they like working with them ten times more than because of technical skills. Sure, you can’t have one without the other, but a gap in skills is more likely to be overlooked than a gap in personality. I mean, you’re more willing to let someone take a few days to learn if they’re nice than you are to hire someone who is a straight up b-face. And in such a competitive industry, your clients are more likely to return to you if your customer service skills are great. In an over-saturated market, repeat business is everything.
To get myself through school, I had customer service related jobs where I worked directly with the public, eventually managed teams, and then went on to spend time writing and administering training classes. I thought that when I graduated and moved on to my career, most of that stuff would just be leftover knowledge from a past life. To my surprise, all the same basic customer service principles serve me well in post production, working with clients and other companies instead of directly with customers. Dealing with people in business is industry-agnostic. If you never worked face-to-face with customers, here are some basic customer service concepts you can incorporate into your job in post production.
If someone comes to you with an issue or need, you need to take the time to listen to them in full so you can understand exactly what you need to do for them. Don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions about what they need. Show an understanding of the topic at hand. Ask questions. Be patient and allow them to present what needs to be said. You’ll have a clearer idea of what they want (or more importantly, what they need) and they’ll feel like you care.
Problems happen, especially in post. By showing that you care (with previously mentioned listening) and sharing some empathetic words, you’ve already begun to diffuse a potentially bad situation and work your way back to having a happy client, peer or boss.
If you try to pawn off a customer service issue to someone else, that’s bad news. After listening and understanding the issue, you need to be the one to take ownership and start working on a solution. If that involves someone else’s expertise, don’t forward them along and wish them well. Stick around until the client is happy. Keep yourself on email threads until things are resolved. And follow up to make sure everyone is happy.
Never say “I don’t know”
If a problem falls into your lap and you have no freakin’ idea what to do, never say you have no freakin’ idea what to do and leave it at that. You need to take some kind of action. In an industry filled with unknowns, you’ll find many problems that are truly unknown with no better solution. Explaining the complexity of the issue in a clear way helps a client understand that you’re being honest about an area where you can’t help them instead of being deliberately unhelpful.
If you stumble upon a gap in your own knowledge, let the person know that there’s someone better suited to help out with this issue, so you’re going to bring them into the conversation to help expedite a solution. Facing an angry customer with an “I don’t know” is an excellent way to make the whole situation blow into a million pieces.
Just like any other industry, post production can be pretty nutty. Quick deadlines and high stakes can really make people blow their fuse a lot faster, in panic or anger. The best thing you can do for someone who is freaking out is to stay calm. If you’ve ever been in a panicked situation, you’ve seen how panic breeds more panic. By being a calm face, you can help everything to get back under control a lot faster.
Be clear and direct
Communication is everything, so be clear and direct with your communications. Don’t over-explain things to a client who doesn’t care. Don’t under-explain because you have better things to do. Make things plainly obvious. If you’re on the receiving end of unclear communication, make the effort to give them a call and make sure you understand the situation in full.
If all else fails, kill them with kindness
There will always be situations where you have a client who cannot be calmed, no matter what you can offer them as a solution. In this situation, the best you can do is to offer answers in the kindest way you can. Smother them. Lay it on thick. What are they going to do, complain you were too nice? I’ve found that by being extra nicey-nice to the most explosive of customers, I manage to calm them a little in an odd phenomenon of too extremes colliding. Whatever works!
Taking a little extra effort to learn the basic principles of customer service will go a long way in not only your client relationships, but also your interactions with anyone where persuasion and problem-solving is a regular thing.
Many thanks to Bling Digital, a division of SIM Digital, for allowing us to reprint this article from the Bling Digital Blog.