Bridging The E-Gap
I work on-line 100% of the time. I never go on-site to fix client issues ( well there was that one time but I doubt I’ll get asked back, they didn’t like my penguin pjs). I’m very comfortable working like this and as a result I often lose site that other people are not as comfortable with this as I am.
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking how I can bridge that e- gap and help people to feel comfortable working with me online without ever meeting me in person.
It’s A Balancing Act
I don’t have time to “jump on Skype” for a quick call with everyone who requests it, I’ve got clients to service and a team to manage. How can I create an environment of trust and still get my stuff done.
How To Create On-line Comfort
Here are some of the techniques I use to put people at their ease when working with me.
I’ve got a long list of real testimonials from my clients. I’ve added their contact details not just their names so people can reach out and contact my previous clients if they want.
I also use a testimonials plugins that allows me to add head shots linking real people to real client’s faces.
Check out this post “The Power Of the Testimonals” for more thinking about testimonials.
I talked a lot about case studies in my previous posts “The Power Of Case Studies” (wow must get less dramatic with my post naming convention) so I’ll not go into too much detail but having lots of case studies in your site proves you work with clients and that you are legitimate.
Provide guarantees in your sales pages, let people know you will do what you say or give people their money back. Here’s my
“If we cannot solve your problem, we also offer a no fix no fee guarantee and all money will be refunded”
And yes I have had to invoke the guarantee a couple of times, not every problem can be solved.
Don’t ask for too much too soon
Asking people to pull out their credit card and pay up front for an expensive service to a complete stranger is going to be a hard sell. If someone comes to you cold and they see a credit card form that puts a barrier to entry up.
You won’t be asked for any money from me unless we have had a couple of email exchanges.
All I ask from my first exchange with a potential client are details of their problem and their contact details.
It’s like asking for a phone number of someone cute as opposed to asking for … well you know where I’m going with this.
Use A Payment Provider People Trust
Using some random provider over http does not inspire confidence like a provider such as Paypal.
People trust paypal and know they can lodge a complaint and get their money back.
Share The Risk
When I started this caper I used to bill upon completion, this was excellent and my clients loved the feeling of trust, that was until I was stiffed by a couple of scummy people and other clients would delay payments.
Nowadays I share the risk by asking for a deposit and then taking the final payment upon completion to satisfaction, this way we are sharing the financial risk.
Sometimes You gotta Skype
This is the real reason for this post.
Recently I was doing my normal thing raising quotes telling people about my no fix no fee guarantee, this potential ( now current) client commented that it was all too mechanical.
I’d not thought about it in that way this has been tried and tested process for nearly five years.
A five minute call created the feelings of trust and the project was green lighted, sometimes we need to create a physical connection.
I know I said at the top of the article that I don’t have time to jump on Skype with everyone but now I’m encouraging a quick pre-project Skype call with new clients to make sure they are happy working with me and that I’m a real legit business.
I’m doing this with people who are past the tyre kicking stage so I’m giving my time to real potential clients, again it’s a balancing act.
Other Things I Have Done Which Work
A couple of other things I’ve done in the past which work but I’m not doing now for various reasons are:
Talking Head Video
Talking into a video so people can hear your voice and see your face is a great way to make an online connection. People like to look at faces and read body language.
I’ve disabled my talking head video while I split test some other items but I found it increased conversions a lot.
Have A Live Chat Box
Add a live chat box so people can ping you and speak to you real time. This one didn’t really work for me due to time zones, too often people were pinging me from the US when I was offline inthe UK, but if you service local clients this is a great
The take away point for this post is that you should be bending over backwards to put people at their ease.
Have I missed any tricks, what do you do to increase a feeling of confidence in your potential clients?