The New Year Calls for Even Better Customer Experiences. Here Are 4 Ways to Boost Your Customer Service.

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Every interaction with a customer or potential customer is your opportunity to create a positive experience.

Here are 4 ways to create or improve the customer experience at your small business.

Rethink your return process.  Returns are a given for many businesses, particularly after the holidays, and they can be expensive for smaller retailers.

However, how you manage returns can have an impact on both your business and a customer's experience.

Pamela Hazelton, the author of The Official Guide to Miva Merchant books, suggests using the procedure as a marketing tool rather than letting it run automatically.

In a post for PracticalEcommerce, she warns, "Make it too complicated and you run the danger of irate customers and bad reviews." But logical, personality-driven tactics will entice them to return and spread the word.

Hazelton quotes a Bizrate Insights study in which nearly 80% of consumers stated that a long credit approval process would make them less inclined to recommend a retailer. Additionally, 40% of respondents said they would completely stop doing business with the company.

If the customer clearly prefers to return the item, your company should do it right away and try to make the procedure as simple as possible. The blog post by her states, "The goal is to preserve long-term revenue, not the immediate transaction."

Hazelton offers a number of tips on how to deal with returns, including the possibility of saving money by letting the consumer keep the item for free.

Other likely outcomes, in her opinion, include dealing with the problem and preserving the sale (and the experience) or triggering a new sale that’s more conducive to the customer’s preferences. So be sure to talk with the customer about the reason for the return to find out more.

Make sure your internet is reliable and fast enough. Whether it’s to support going live on social media or for ease of transactions, fast and reliable internet — or lack thereof — could impact your customers’ experience at your business or website.

Today’s consumers have little patience for internet issues — studies indicate that slow-loading pages or delays will prompt customers to move on from your website. They’ll just take their business elsewhere.

Respond to customer comments and reviews in a timely manner. Entrepreneur Simon Bach says it was his positive experience with companies that responded to his reviews within 24 hours that resulted in a similar strategy for Ling, the company he co-founded.

At Ling, a game-like app that teaches languages, he says, “We aim to answer all negative and positive reviews within 24 hours.”

According to Bach in a Forbes Young Entrepreneur Council post, "If you're unresponsive for longer than 48 hours, that sends a message to your customers that you don't care about them and whether or not they like your product, which will cause your company harm over time."

Create seamless processes and systems. Highly successful retailers make use of smart tech and software that allows them to create systems and processes for every stage of their business, including customer activity, says a Shopify post by Kali Hawlk.

“A set system can help you automate various tasks and transactions, which saves time (and therefore, money),” writes Hawlk. “It also creates a smooth and enjoyable customer experience, which can encourage repeat and loyal buyers.”

As an example, the blog pointed to the “seamless client experience” at Jaho, a coffee shop in Salem, Mass.

“Enter the cafe, place your order, and swipe your card to pay — and if it’s your first time buying something from Jaho, you can enter your email when you make your purchase. Jaho’s point-of-sale system then emails you a receipt for your purchase along with a chance to rate your experience.”

Further, the system pairs the customer’s card with their email address for each future purchase, and the customer earns $2 off for every 5 purchases, according to the Shopify post.

 

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