Deliver better customer service to your customers
And there’s one thing that has the power to make or break your business. Something that can either propel you to new heights of success and growth or consign you to the dustbin of history with all those other small businesses which have collapses over the years. Something that your business couldn’t exist without… The customer!
Whether you want your small business to stay small or whether you have growth on your mind, there’s nothing more important than how you deal with your customers. No matter how great your products and services are or how meticulously chosen your team may be, your business lives or dies by its customer care. With that in mind, here are some essential customer service tips for small businesses.
Have a clear customer service policy and complaints procedure
You likely hand-picked every member of staff because of their combination of knowledge, skills and experience, as well as the interpersonal skills that are the foundation of outstanding customer service. However, while members of your team may have an innate talent for dealing with people, businesses cannot thrive on this alone.
Your team needs a clear and comprehensive customer service policy which will have a knock-on effect on everything from how they answer the phone to how they deal with an irritated or upset customer. This needs to be an integral part of their employee handbook. It needs to be read and signed, and its policies need to be sewn into the fabric of your operations.
This includes having a set complaints procedure so all members of your team know how to guide customers who have had a bad experience with your business towards a timely and satisfactory resolution.
Create a rewards scheme that gives them more of what they want
Happy customers tend to be repeat customers. But with the implementation of a potent rewards scheme they can become something much more valuable… Vocal brand advocates! The kind of people who say good things about you on social media, leave 5 star Google reviews and write glowing reviews of your business, its products and services online. This is the kind of valuable social proof that money can’t buy… But showing your customers how much you care can!
In order to be effective, your rewards scheme needs to give customers more of what they want rather than more of what you want to give. Its rewards and incentives need to be personalised and tailored to their previous purchase history and brand interactions.
You can even use your rewards scheme to encourage customer referrals. The Uber model is a great example of this in action. Your existing customers can become micro-influencers for your brand earning discounts by introducing friends, family and colleagues to your business.
Don’t bury your head in the sand when someone criticises you on social media
Speaking of influence, never underestimate the impact of what people say about you online can have on your brand. Perhaps Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said it best when he said “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room".
With that in mind, as tempting as it may be to ignore when someone says less than flattering things about you on social platforms, the longer you leave these comments unattended, the more they can damage your brand.
Take a proactive approach, engaging unhappy customers transparently and seeking a mutually agreeable resolution. Even the customer is being completely unreasonable and you fail to win them over, other social media users can see that you did all that you could to achieve a resolution that made them happier.
Make sure that customer service training isn’t a “one and done”
Even the most innately gifted people person with outstanding interpersonal intelligence needs customer service training. It’s how you tailor their unique talents to the mission statement of your business and the values and attitudes inherent in your brand. It’s how you make sure that everything they do marries their abilities with your customer service policies.
However, this training is not something that you carry out during their onboarding process before leaving them to their own devices. In order to be truly effective, training needs to be carried out regularly, so that the knowledge they gleaned from their onboarding is always being topped up, refreshed and expanded upon.
When training is treated as a “one and done” exercise, that’s when lapses occur, bad habits are developed and your customer service policy is less likely to be carried out to the letter.
No matter how enthusiastic and diligent your team, their training needs to be consistent and carried out regularly if you’re to get the most out of them!
Use a virtual receptionist to reduce the risk of missed calls
Finally, as a consumer yourself you likely realise just how irritating it can be when a business you’re trying to make contact with doesn’t answer the phone within office hours. It makes you feel as though they don’t value you as a customer and lumbers you with the inconvenience of having to call back. Or leave a voicemail which, let’s face it, will more than likely be ignored. On the other hand, you know that there are times when your team are busy and simply can’t get to the phone because they’re dealing with customers on the premises.
This is where a virtual assistant can be invaluable. They can answer calls promptly and transfer them directly to staff. They can also send notifications by email or SMS so that none of your calls slip through the net. This can be invaluable in delivering truly comprehensive customer service.
How we can help
We provide high quality virtual receptionist services to suit all budgets. Our Australia-based receptionists ensure that your customers get the standard of service that they’ve come to expect from your brand.
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