Customer service is vital to any business, particularly small businesses that rely on customers to spread the word about their company. Here are five steps to improve your customer service.
Small businesses have to do it all, and getting the balance right is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs can face. Customer service just adds to the list of responsibilities, and it’s often something which is neglected post-sale or takes up too much valuable time for no return. But get it right, and customer service excellence will build the bottom line.
Make sure your customers believe they can contact you easily any time.
There’s nothing more frustrating as a consumer to find that the only way to ask a question is to phone an 0845 number between 9 and 5. Yes, it’s unrealistic to expect an answer at all hours from a small business, but if customers are able to post via an active social media profile, or send an email, it brings you and the your clients closer together and avoids any frustration which could exacerbate a problem.
Use review sites appropriately
A new attraction we visited recently has invested in a well written Trip Advisor listing and is carefully replying to all the comments. This simple interaction immediately sets them apart in a crowded market. Don’t just sit and hope reviews work for you – show that you care about your customers.
Train your staff well
In a small business, even the summer work experience student is customer facing. Don’t assume that everyone has the confidence or experience to deal with the general public or answer a telephone professionally – it’s a dying art! Take a few minutes to set out how your business should be represented and make sure staff stick to it. A professional greeting immediately tells a customer they matter – and they’ll be more inclined to deal with you again.
Delegate social media!
There’s a real fear of delegating social media accounts for the first time. But you wouldn’t rush to deal with every telephone call, every email, every client walking through the door, would you? Social media is just another communication channel. Set the rules and boundaries, then let staff deal with the outside world while you concentrate on running your business.
Use virtual office support
Many small business owners – particularly sole traders – find it impossible to ‘switch off’, getting trapped in the loop of being available to customers 24/7. Smartphones have a lot to answer for here, which is why my family confiscate mine at holiday time. However, customer service IS important and there are plenty of professionals out there who will babysit your social media accounts, emails and phone messages so you can get on with work or play without disruption.