I think frequently about providing extraordinary service for clients. I do not often think about examples of poor client service. I had an experience recently that helped me understand why some clients may get upset about our service. 
I have written two books. In early 2005 I hired an editor to help take my words and make them more readable and to proofread and make sure everything was right. I met with Ellen at the end of January 2005. Over the next 15 months Ellen worked with me on my books. She was a fantastic writer with a vivid imagination. I really believe she made my books more interesting. But, her service was poor. Here are some of the many examples: 

  • She never gave me a budget or plan for the entire project. 
  • She never fully explained to me what she would be doing and what I would be doing after the draft of the book was completed. 
  • She told me one book would be printed by October 2005 and it is still not printed. 
  • She prepared proposals for publishers and had me review the drafts, but never sent me the final version or identified the publishers to whom she sent the proposals. 
  • She blamed others for the many mistakes in the galleys of the book or categorized them as style differences. 
  • When I let her know I needed her to fix the errors, she just quit. 

I am now in the process of paying someone else to fix what I paid Ellen to have right in the first place. 
What are the lessons here? First, if you have a narrow niche, don’t try to provide the wide range of services. Second, prepare a plan and budget in advance of the project and let the client know what you will be doing and what you will need from their staff. Third, under promise and over deliver when it comes to meeting dates. Finally, own up to mistakes and make it right.