Customer Service Tips for Your Small Business

Ever leave a big box store because the customer service was so bad? Yet you’re back there a week later to shop. That’s because their primary differentiator is often price. But for many small businesses, customer service is the reason why loyal customers shop there. That’s why it’s so important to monitor service levels in order to keep your competitive advantage. Here are some tips for small businesses to maintain great customer service.

Shoppers who experience poor customer service will likely tell between nine and twenty people. With the availability of social media, the number can be even higher. So get your team up-to-speed on customer service techniques. The result will be happy, repeat customers and positive word of mouth.

5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

  1. Follow the Rule of 30 – Retailers have long used this guideline. Greet your customers within the first 30 seconds of their visit or within their first 30 steps. Online businesses can use the same idea. Use virtual customer service functionality to answer questions while they are on your website.
  2. Silence Doesn’t Always Mean Satisfaction – Just because you’re not hearing complaints doesn’t mean you don’t have any. So look for opportunities to ask how you’re doing. It might be a survey after purchase, reviews on your website or simply asking “How was everything today?” at the register.
  3. Make a Plan and Follow It – What do you do to handle a customer service problem? Your answer may determine the quality of your customer interaction. Having a consistent approach helps to ensure that you’ve covered all of the bases. It allows you to make small tweaks and determine what the effect was. Here’s one example of a plan.
  4. Empower Your Staff – Your staff is the face of your business to customers. So make sure they leave the right impression by providing the training. Give them options to resolve customers’ issues. It will not only create a more uniform customer experience but it’s motivational for staff members.
  5. Provide Options for After-Hours Answers – Customers don’t always have a question during regular business hours. So give them options. For example, your website can provide 24/7 access to content. So even if you’re closed for the day, customers can get answers. Your social media channels provide another option.

For More Information

The Small Business Administration offers a self-study, introductory course on customer service and how it affects your business. Topics covered include: defining what good customer service is, implementing good customer service, and how to improve customer service. This short, 30-minute course might spark ideas that you can use in your small business.

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