Local designer Lisa Christie has been recognised for her outstanding customer service through her two businesses, Visual Edge and Little Dinosaur.
> Congratulations on your recent awards. First, tell us about the Customer Care award you won.
The Customer Care program is designed to encourage businesses to engage in ‘best practice’ methods for customer service. My business Visual Edge was chosen as a winner in the recent awards among 250 other local businesses.
I couldn’t be happier about winning, and it has been great for my morale and my local profile too! Visual Edge works hard on its customer care philosophy, and winning this award was fantastic recognition of that effort.
> Why is Customer Care so important for your business, and how has being a part of the program helped you to understand this?
Business life is tough; there are many challenges and you create your opportunities through hard work and strong Customer Care philosophies. Visual Edge’s Customer Care philosophy has helped shape my focus on providing quality professional interior design advice to clients. I have always tried hard to reduce stress for my clients and to save them time and money. Our philosophy at Visual Edge is: ‘simple solutions in complex times’.
Customer Care has increased my focus on the importance of keeping it simple and providing the little things that make the biggest difference to my clients.
> What tips do you have for better customer care?
It is important to deliver an exceptional level of service from start to finish. We do this to ensure that our clients’ expectations are not only met, but exceeded where possible. It’s great to leave clients with some form of ‘value add’ that is above what they were expecting. For Visual Edge clients, it might be a fact sheet when decorating or shopping for finishing touches; it could be tips and tricks of the trade, educational material, or a referral to a service provider or product that may guide them or give them a starting point. Each client has special needs, but I always give them a special bonus of some kind, and they love it!
> What recommendations do you have for businesses thinking of joining the Customer Care Program?
If you are serious about your business, then the philosophy of Customer Care should be a natural part of your business ethic. The program will help you fully realise its potential, will provide learning, support and most of all help improve the quality of service you provide to your customers every day. This will in turn lead to an increase in referrals and repeat business. Providing great customer service is the keystone to growing a business and maintaining it as a prosperous local entity.
> You were recently recognised with a national award. Tell us about that.
Visual Edge and my other business, littledinosaur.com.au were winners among hundreds of home based businesses all over Australia! I operate these two businesses from home, as client appointments are conducted off site at their homes or business premises. I am the president of the Home Business Forum, which is based in Port Macquarie and has just reached its milestone of 100 members this week! In 2009 over 64% of small business is home based – that’s over a million people conducting business from home.
Personally, I love being my own boss, but working from home has its challenges … isolation, finding relevant mentors and support. On the up side, it allows great autonomy for me to select my own projects, work style and hours.
The national award was recognition of Visual Edge and Little Dinosaur being leading examples of home based businesses in Australia. I am thrilled and very proud of this award; it is very encouraging!
> Thanks for your time.