Great customer service is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense:
- It’s THE secret to a loyal customer base
- Satisfied customers will recommend you to others
- It’s a way to differentiate your business from the competition
Repeat customers are the best source of revenue for small businesses.
They account for 44% of revenues. Word of mouth is the second best source of revenue with 36%. New customers accounted for about 19% of revenue. (Source: Huzzah Media)
Add the fact that it is five times more expensive to acquire new customers than keeping the ones you already have. It makes sense that business owners want to keep their customers as happy as possible.
Interesting fact: 80% of companies believe they deliver “superior” customer service but only 8% of their customers agree.
The customer’s perception is your reality. – Kate Zabriskie
How can a small business create a great customer experience?
Provide a high quality service or product and be consistent.
Customers and clients like to know what to expect, and if you are consistent in meeting or exceeding their expectations every time, they’ll come back again and again.
Train your staff.
No use in having a great product or service if you do a poor job delivering it.
For many businesses, the lowest paid employees are the ones having the most interaction with customers. They are the public face of the business and their behavior is the reputation of the company.
It is important to train your staff, make them feel valued, communicate your company vision, empower them and give them the tools to do their job right.
Make your customers feel special and appreciated.
When morale is high, happy, smiling employees will more likely pay attention to the customers, treat them with respect and go the extra mile if necessary.
Very often it’s the little things that your employees do that make a big impression on your customers not so much your big mission statement.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ― Maya Angelou
Related Post: Don’t Ignore Your Existing Customers
Don’t over promise and under deliver.
Not meeting a deadline is a sure way to annoy a customer. Make promises you can keep. If an order usually takes three days to fulfill, say four just so you have extra time in case part of the process takes longer than planned. If you get it done before the fourth day, you will exceed your customer’s expectation and make him/her happy.
When something goes wrong, apologize.
It’s not always easy and it might not even be your fault sometimes, but the customer will appreciate your apology.
Many times, customer complaints are an opportunity to make improvements. Establish a clear policy for dealing with complaints from customers and train your staff as well.
Answer your phone.
Even in a world of online interaction, customers will often to pick up the phone and call your business. Make sure that a live person is picking the phone when they call. Answer the phone by the second ring. Have a pleasant greeting.
If you cannot answer the phone, return the call within a reasonable time. Let the caller know what to expect in your voice mail message.
Listen to your customers.
If you want to know what you can do to provide great customer service, why not ask your customers? They’ll be able to tell you exactly what you need to know.
Use an old-fashioned survey or your social media platforms to find out from your customers how to provide an outstanding customer service.
Following up after the product or service was delivered shows your customers that you care about them and are ready to answer any questions they might have. They’ll remember this extra touch.
Also follow up after a customer or client contacted you about your product or service, many times it’s the difference between loosing and making the sale.
Give something extra.
It could be a small gift, a coupon for additional purchase, a follow up call from the owner, or a hand written note. People love getting more than they expected.
Related post: The Power of Saying Thank You
Customer service and social media
Social media has changed the way customers engage with businesses. It is important for small businesses to remember that online followers are real people and social media is “word-of-mouth” on steroid.
Your customers will ask for help, complain or say thank you online just as they would offline. The difference is that everyone can see their comments.
If you do not engage and respond to those comments, other customers and potential clients will think that you do not take customer satisfaction seriously.
Treat any online complaint just as you would if the customer was on the phone or standing in front of you. Responding to a negative review or complaint can change an unsatisfied customer’s attitude toward a company.
Related post: Planning and Managing a Social Media Crisis
Customer service is an important part of your marketing strategy after all, your customers are what keep you in business, if they’re not happy they’ll leave and go to your competition.
When you and your employees consistently exceed your customers’ expectations. Treat them with respect, make them feel that they are the most important part of your business.
Go the extra mile to win their loyalty, not only will they keep coming back, they’ll also become a great referral source as they spread the word about your business to their friends and associates.