When you have a small business, no matter how many people are part of it, customer service is something that is going to help your business to grow. And whether customer service is only your responsibility, as you are the business owner, or you have a small team of people helping you that will cover that area, all small businesses are going to benefit from improving the standards of their customer service. Providing excellent customer service really is something that can make or break a small business. The reason being is that we are living in an ever competitive global economy, so there will be other people that customers will go to, if they have a bad experience with you. And through social media and online review sites, the word can quickly spread if something has gone and wrong and a customer is not happy; that can really impact business.
If you have an online business, or an online store that customers can order from, then when they are just one click away from buying from your business, you need to remember that sat there on a computer or phone, they could quickly click to another site in seconds and buy from another business, pretty much anywhere in the world. You need to set your customer service apart from others.
There was a survey run by American Express not that long ago that found that two out of every three customers claim that they are willing to spend more money with a business when they have experienced something positive. Which if you break that down, can be a massive number of people that will come to you again if they are left happy and in a positive state of mind about what you offer. On the other, a study by Kissmetrics found that over seventy percent of people will and have ended using a particular store or business because of a negative customer experience. So you need to think about how to create a positive change in the business, with your customer service, so that you are helping your business to grow. So with all of that in mind, here are some strategies that are going to help you to stand out among your competitors, and that will then help you to grow your small business.
Build rapport with customers
If you are just starting out or haven’t been well established, then your client base is going to be much smaller than a huge company where customers are purely a number. When you are a small business owner you have the unique position to really personalize the customer’s experience with you, and you can get to know them and help to meet their needs. If you have a face to face business then remember their names and help them to become friends. If you are based online, then offer incentives, send out little extra samples with orders; just think of the ways that will help them to feel valued.
Customer service is something that is all about being present, and that is from the start of a customer knowing your business, right up until there is an email, an encounter on social media, or a sale. If you take a long time to respond to something, then you can be left with customers that are unhappy, but also customers that are going to look for others for help. If they are waiting for a long time for an answer, they’ll just find the same thing elsewhere with a team that respond faster, and then buy from them. So before you get to the point where you do have customers leaving feeling unhappy, have a plan in place for all different avenues to make sure that you (and your team, if relevant), are able to be on the same page about this, as it will make a difference.
Learn the art of problem solving
In customer service, there is an old saying that the customer is always right. And while they may be technically wrong, you want to make sure that they are left with a positive experience of your business, rather than a negative one, so that saying is something that still rings true today. When the customer walks away, the bottom line is that you want them to feel positive about what has just happened. When this happens, you are more likely to generate customer loyalty, and get them to tell their friends. If they are left feeling negative then they could share online about the negative experience, as well as tell their friends about it too; the worst would be leading to a viral post about the experience (we all remember those American Airlines videos of people being dragged off planes, don’t we)? So learn to problem solve. Sometimes the issues can be solved quite logically; other times you many need to set aside some pride if customers are being particularly difficult.
There is another aspect of problem solving too, that will impact customer service, but isn’t directly customer service. If you have problems with getting deliveries out on time, leading to complaints from customers, then you need to problem solve about how to overcome that issue; is there a supply chain problem? Do you need to look for a new company like CTI Logistics Interstate to deal with your logistics and deliveries? There will be plenty of problem solving to do as a business owner, and they will all be related to the overall customer journey or customer experience.
Treat your employees as you’d want them to treat customers
This is an aspect of customer service that is more than likely to be overlooked, but it does start at the top with you. Small business owners should be the people that are treating their employees with the same respect and transparency that you would expect them to show to others, especially the customers. The happier your team of employees are, the harder they are likely to work, as well as the more dedicated they will be to the success of the business.
It is a competitive world for small businesses, so you need to make sure that you’re able to stand out. One of the best ways to do that is to look after your customers; it can really be the difference that you need.