Customer service is key to every small business. It can drive improvements in every part of your business, from sales and retention to customer and employee satisfaction. While good customer service can be a big advantage, it doesn’t come easily. Here are some of the best tips for jump-starting your customer service as a small business.
The first step, in some ways the most obvious step, is often overlooked: You have to focus on customer service. In many organizations, customer service is a function that takes a backseat to finance, sales, marketing, and just about everything else. Great customer service takes prioritization.
One important way this can be done is through measurement and key performance indicator (KPI) tracking. To truly focus in on customer service, you should track metrics such as response time and net promoter score. These indicators should be given consideration and should receive serious attention from management. Of course, tracking these key indicators is meaningless if they never improve, so considerable time should be devoted to finding ways to improve these metrics.
Customer service is not a one-way street. You are giving them information, service, and assistance, but they are also giving you valuable information. These are the people who purchase your product. Their feedback is valuable and can provide crucial insights on how your business can improve.
Unfortunately, paying attention is not as simple as listening a little harder. Even for small businesses, customer feedback can be lost between the point at which it is received and management. If customer feedback is to truly inform the direction of your small business, it is important to have regular processes in place that give management the opportunity to hear customer feedback.
Employ the Right People
All of the processes, procedures, focus, and good intentions in the world will be good for nothing if you lack the kind of employees who can be helpful and leave a good impression on your customers. Training employees can be difficult, and wherever possible, you should try to hire customer service professionals with a track record of success. The right customer satisfaction strategy requires both the right procedures and the right people, neither can succeed without the other.
The goodwill built up over many positive customer service interactions can be destroyed in one single negative customer service interaction. That is why it is important to make sure you are consistent in how you approach and deal with your customers. Specific scripts and workflows can help make sure that customers receive the same, positive customer service every time they come in contact with your business.
Pick Your Battles
Anyone who has worked in customer service can tell you that the customer is not always right. Customers sometimes mishandle and misuse products. They sometimes make unreasonable requests and forget basic information. Companies with good customer service are sometimes willing to lose battles in order to win the war.
Anyone who represents your company in a customer service capacity needs to have some understanding of your business’s values and goals. Otherwise, they might be haggling over pennies with a customer who could prove to be a valuable customer in the future. When someone is taking advantage of your business, it can be appropriate to stand up to customers, but many times it is better to take the long view.
Be Eager but Not Aggressive
Customers expect to be in control of their commercial interactions, especially in the age of the internet. They tend to respond negatively to pushy salespeople or customer service representatives. Those providing the service should make the customer aware they are willing to help and offer a few helpful suggestions but otherwise stay out of the way unless called upon for help.
Continue to Train
Even great employees can sometimes fall into bad habits over time. When you have the right people and the right processes in place, it can be tempting to think your work is done and that you will never have to pay attention to customer service again. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Training for new employees is essential, and occasional retraining and reminders to existing employees will help make sure that they keep up their best habits and don’t develop any new, bad ones.
If you are ready to take your customer service to the next level, contact us today for a free consultation.