The Importance of Customer Service and How it Applies to Your Business

Two women talking sitting a desk.While the concept of customer service has been around forever, the way it’s applied continues to evolve. If your definition of it begins with “please” and ends with “thank you, come again,” perhaps it’s time for an upgrade. Here are four tips to help you take your customer service to a whole new level.

1. Create A Customer Service Blanket With Social Media

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others are tailor made for delivering content that makes people feel special. So let’s do just that. Use Facebook to thank and acknowledge good customers. Take advantage of Pinterest to put a face to your business and adding any personal touches. Finally, use Twitter to announce sales and promotions for your valued clients. When you combine these efforts, you’ll have your customers covered.

While generating social media content across a variety of platforms can be time consuming, there are ways to do this efficiently and economically. In fact, Hootsuite, a platform that lets you plan, schedule and launch content across a variety of social networks, can help. A basic version gives you access to three of your favorite social networks. An upgraded package allows you access to do more for a small fee.

2. Make Transparency Your Ally

Every small business makes mistakes. How you respond to yours is what will be the make or break when it come to your customer service points. To come out ahead, it’s important to understand that consumers value truth above all else. If you appear truthful and transparent, you appear trustworthy, and trustworthy businesses are more successful in the long run.

While the big business landscape is filled with examples of companies that flat-out lied, your reputation and your livelihood can’t afford such poor tactics. Own up to mistakes if they occur and vow to correct them. If your product fails in some way, don’t deny it, fix it or replace it. If an employee steals or discriminates against customers, don’t ignore it, either retrain the employee or release them. With transparency comes great responsibility, but also great reward.

3. Let Technology Assist You

Ironically, there’s a lot of technology available to small businesses today to help you provide personal customer service – or at least make it appear that way. Take Point of Sale (POS) systems that collect customer information and allow you to use it for targeted marketing, for instance.

If you’ve received a promotional post card, e-mail, text or notice in your social media feed that has your name on it, chances are slim that it came directly from the business owner’s desk. More likely, it’s one of many POS systems at work generating ultra-targeted marketing content that automatically happens virtually. As a business owner, all you have to do is choose the system that does what you want.

4. Ask Your Customers

Customer service can be such a wide-ranging concept that many small business owners don’t know where they need to improve. If this is the case, asking your customers for direct feedback is the easiest way to go about it. The difficult part, however, is getting them to respond to your request. Here’s where you have some leeway.

First, you can always try to incentivize them with money. For example, you might offer anyone who returns a completed survey a discount on a product or service. SurveyMonkey is a simple web-based platform that allows you to create your own survey questions and get responses online. Some POS systems will generate receipts that query for feedback via an online survey. And of course, there are always old-school paper surveys that still work, if you’re feeling nostalgic (or run a vintage candy shop).

At the end of the day, good customer service is something every small business can master. All it takes is some attention to the matter and a willingness to apply yourself.

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