Move over Stranger Danger.
The biggest bad guy in town is now Scope Creep.
He’s a sneaky one. Convincing you that just one more freebie, upsell or phone call won’t bite into your profits.
Instead of candy he offers the promise of clients who just can’t stop talking about you. He paints a vision of customer zealots who will erect monuments to your greatness.
As you lean in to claim this amazing bounty he grabs your profits and makes a run for it.
What can you do? For the sake of profits everywhere, you must learn…
How to Contain the Creep
Just like every stranger isn’t dangerous, every request from a client or customer isn’t scope creep.
Identifying Scope Creep
In order to apprehend the real villains (and not rough up someone’s grandma!) here are some examples to help you pick out the creep in the crowd.
Notice I’m encouraging great customer service, which should be the focus of every business owner (for more on this read Natalie Sisson’s great post Is Your Business a Sitting Duck?).
Ask yourself, if a new client (stranger!) made this request, would I charge for it?
What the Creep Steals
The Creep loves to steal time.
Do you have a client that consistently runs over by 10 minutes or more during a consult? Or often calls “just to ask a quick question”?
Unless they are on an unlimited access plan (in which case we really need to talk), this is costing you money. You could have used that 10 minutes to help another client, promote your business, or handle an administrative detail.
Let’s say this happens twice a week over the course of a year.
10 minutes *2 * 50 weeks = 1,000 minutes a year.
That’s nearly 17 hours! If you normally charge $100 per hour you’ve just lost $1,700!
The Creep also loves to steal upgrades.
Does this sounds familiar? You’re almost done with a project and the client says, “What would really make this perfect is special widget upgrade XYZ. In fact we need it. Can’t you just throw it in. Surely it’s not that much more work.”
You don’t want to end the project on a sour note. Special widget upgrade XYZ would add a lot. You start calculating the time or resources it would take, hmm… Stop right there!
What do you normally charge for this upgrade? Let’s say it’s $1500. You will be throwing away even more than $1500 because someone needs to do the work and / or purchase materials. Yes it’s hard, but would you have agreed in the beginning to do it for extra charge?
Warning: Creep Paranoia is NOT Pretty
Are you suffering from Creep Paranoia? Take this quick quiz to find out:
- When a client call runs over 6.27 minutes do you send an invoice for $31.78 afterwards?
- A customer requests a change to the website you are designing. It’s a quick fix. Do you respond they need to make an additional payment?
- A long time client asks if you will attend their upcoming event as a guest. Do you respond, sure my hourly rate is…
If you answered yes to any of these questions you are suffering from Creep Paranoia.
Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you work for the customer. If you were the customer, how do you think you would respond?
Are you ready to add my face to America’s Most Wanted of Bad Customer Service? Or do you agree that every business needs limits? How have you faced down Scope Creep? What has he stolen from you?