Yesterday I wrote about my heart-breaking separation from my beloved Xobni. So how can we keep this from happening at our company? How do we keep our clients happy?

1. Close mouth, open ears

It’s the most basic part. Listen to your clients. REALLY listen to them, don’t just hear them talk while imagining reasons why they’re wrong. If you really pay attention to what your product’s users are saying, you’ll know exactly where the pain points are in the product and you’ll have your priority list all drawn up for you.

A few days after people create an account with AceProject, we send them an email and ask them what they think of the product, if they can suggest improvements or missing feature. The response we get is a very good source of inspiration for us.

2. Aggravation is really bad

An exasperated client should never be ignored or dismissed. If you let aggravation at your product go unchecked, it only grows and never brings anything good to you, your product or your users. When someone is angry at your product, it should by your duty  to get some one-on-one time with them and try to understand what’s making them so unhappy.

In my experience, frustrated clients often start by stating something like “your product sucks!”  When I call them for details about the suckiness, I realize the true source of the frustration is something different: it might be that they feel they didn’t get good service, or they don’t understand a part of AceProject, or that there was a misunderstanding. 90% of the time, their aggravation is defused by having a real human call them, listen to them vent their emotions, and be willing to work with them to fix what makes them unhappy.

3. The personal touch works

Customer service should be answered by a human, not a machine. It’s just better.

In our business, most of our clients do business with us without ever talking or emailing us here at customer service. They do it all online. When they need help, it always makes them really happy to hear a real human’s voice on the line.

4. Test, test, test

Of course, the basics of keeping customers happy is to deliver a functioning product. The key to this is not just to build a good product, but also to test like a gang of madmen.

At AceProject, we test on 5 different browsers in two languages. We’d rather keep AceProject in beta longer than deliver something that’s full bugs – there’s nothing like a buggy system to make your users aggravated, and we’ve established that was bad.

5. Check your pride at the door

That’s the hardest one. You’ve worked on our new product for so long. In your eyes, it’s perfect. You’ve spent a significant amount of time and effort in making flawless. How could someone find fault with it? Surely they must be wrong.

Actually,  you’ve been working with our nose so close to the tree, you don’t see the forest anymore. You don’t see the big picture. The product may be perfect for you, but you’re not the ones who will buy it. The thing is humans hate to be wrong. With a vengeance. So when a client pipes up and says “you product sucks!” our first reaction is disbelief.

I have so many times heard people in marketing and development say thing like “oh, this client doesn’t know what she’s doing, how can she criticize our product?”

We must remember that we are building products that people will want to buy. If no one likes our product but us, there is no point trying to sell it.

So we have to let go of our pride and be willing to admit we’re not the only ones who can bring good suggestions to the table.