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Customer service is a critical part of any small business. It is the process of providing a positive experience for customers when they interact with a business’s employees in person, via telephone, email, or live online chat. Good customer service can help build relationships, increase customer loyalty, and drive sales. It can also help to differentiate a business from competitors, as customers are more likely to remember companies that provide excellent customer service.
For small businesses, customer service is even more critical because it can be a deciding factor in whether or not customers choose to do business with you. With the right strategies in place, you can ensure that your customers have the best possible experience interacting with your company and that they return repeatedly. This Balboa Capital blog article features a customer service guide for small businesses.
What is customer service?
In today’s business world, customer service is more than answering customers’ questions and ringing up sales. It entails providing customers with exceptional, personalized support at every step of the sales cycle and a memorable and positive brand experience. So, a business’s employees must fully understand the products or services they sell and what makes them stand apart from competing products or services.
Next, customer service happens at each step of the buying process and on any channel and continues after the sale is complete. For example, a customer who wants a large order of pastries for a birthday party from a local bakery can visit the bakery in person or contact them via telephone or email. Each of these customer touchpoints falls under the customer service umbrella. So, if the bakery addresses the customer’s inquiry in a friendly and prompt manner at any of these touchpoints, it provides good customer service. In addition, when customers are happy with their buying experience, they are more likely to post positive reviews online and become brand ambassadors.
How to improve your team’s customer service.
Customer service is the key to customer satisfaction and loyalty; it can make or break a business. Therefore, ensuring that your small business customer service is up to par is essential. Here are five tips to help you improve your small business customer service:
1. Invest in customer service training for your employees.
This will ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to handle customers professionally. Initial customer service training can be done during the onboarding process, and ongoing training can help employees stay up-to-date on company and customer expectations. We included more information about staff training later in this blog post.
2. Implement a customer experience management (CXM) system.
This will help you track and measure customer satisfaction levels over time with minimal effort. Many features of customer experience management software are on auto-pilot, so you and your employees will not have to input much information on an ongoing basis. In addition, a CXM keeps track of your customers’ interactions with your small business. These include incoming phone calls, sales or support emails, and social media engagement.
3. Conduct regular customer satisfaction surveys.
This will give you valuable insights into what customers think about your products or services and how you can improve them. For example, you might find out that your products or services are viewed as excellent by customers, but your company’s level of customer service could be better. You can send satisfaction surveys or questionnaires to customers who have opted in to receive your emails.
4. Utilize technology to streamline processes.
Automating specific customer service and support tasks can help save time and money while providing better customer service. One of the most popular automated systems to consider is a website chatbot that mimics human conversation and provides answers to customers’ questions. Another system that can provide value to your company is an online customer service page that lets customers provide feedback, request product support, track packages, etc. Using these tools can offer faster response times and more personalized interactions, both of which can lead to improved customer satisfaction.
5. Focus on building relationships with customers.
Notify prospective and current customers when you introduce new products or services or have sales or special discounts. You can do this by sending customers marketing emails, so long as they have opted in to receive your emails and can opt-out per the CAN-SPAM laws. Adding links to your company’s social networks is another way to build customer relationships. Social media is also cost-effective, as you can promote your company and attract followers without buying paid ads.
More about staff training.
Investing in quality staff training for your small business customer service is one of the best ways to ensure that your employees are up-to-date with the latest industry trends and customer service techniques. A well-trained staff can help boost customer satisfaction, reduce customer complaints, and increase revenue. In addition, with proper training, your employees will be able to handle demanding customers better, identify opportunities for improvement in product or service delivery, and provide a higher level of customer service.
Employee training programs for your small business should be tailored to meet the needs of each employee. They should include communication skills, problem-solving skills, conflict-resolution strategies, sales techniques, and, if applicable, upselling strategies. Quality staff training will benefit your customers and improve employee morale and productivity.
Measuring the success of your efforts.
As you know, measuring the success of your customer service efforts can be challenging. Fortunately, key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you measure the success of your small business customer service efforts. These KPIs include customer satisfaction scores, response times, and resolution rates. By tracking these KPIs regularly, you can gain valuable insights into how well your customer service team is performing and make adjustments to improve the quality and efficiency of your services.
Ultimately, it would be best if you strived to have a 100% customer satisfaction score on your metrics, but this is easier said than done. However, you are in a good position if you can achieve and maintain a 90% or higher satisfaction score. If you have a satisfaction score, look at your reviews to see what needs improvement. Correcting issues related to customer service can lead to higher satisfaction scores and an improved online reputation. Lastly, you should revisit your employee training procedures or hire additional service representatives.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.