When you realize the cost of acquiring a new customer is five times the cost of retaining an existing one, it makes sense to try to keep your loyal and paying customers. It is imperative for small businesses to have excellent customer service. You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What expectations would you have?
When prospects and customers believe, they are remembered, that can be a massive boon to your business. Sure, it seems like common sense. Yet, in today’s hyper-connected world, small businesses face challenges that come with trying to offer 24/7 customer support. It requires behavior that differs from business situations. You need to adjust your attitude towards each customer.
To win over customers, you need to make them feel as if they have also won. To gain a distinct advantage over your competition, you need to demonstrate excellent customer service.
What customers want?
When you’re a small business owner competing against companies as big as Amazon, Apple or Google, no one needs to remind you of the weeds and potential for pitfalls. This is where it is critical to understand your customers’ biggest hot buttons when it comes down to customer service. Here is a partial list of what customers want:
Knowledgeable Staff–Don’t you hate it when you ask a company employee for information, and they have no clue? It’s annoying and makes you want to run in the other direction. So, you need to ensure your staff can answer customer questions.
Reduced hold times–Customers don’t want to wait on the phone for over five minutes. They have lives and jobs too. You can help by using an automated system that leads them through a series of prompts before getting a customer service representative. This helps to specify their need, while keeping them busy if there is a bit of a wait time.
Resolve issues quickly–Problems will arise, but how do you handle them? Does the customer want to wait a month to get a refund? Probably not. If you can solve problems quickly, you will be far ahead of your competition.
Have normal business hours–Most customers would rather call customer service in the morning, when they have more energy and a better attention span. So, you should be available during normal business hours.
Several Customer Service outlets–People will still make phone calls, but an increasing number is starting to use email, web chat and social media to get help.
Ensuring your customer service team is on board
Consumers tend to flock to small businesses because they believe they are more accessible than enterprise businesses. They want to know that there is someone on the other side just like them. This is where a small business can certainly stand out. When your team members are excited about helping your customers, it only helps your business. Plus, since you have a small business, it can be much more flexible than a massive organization.
You will need the flexibility in instances where everyone needs to play a significant role. This starts through training employees. You want your staff to know that your company is devoted to making sure your customers are happy. This means that everyone must go the extra mile.
Share the benefits of being a customer-centric organization. It means more growth, which is better for everyone. Then, provide training on how to efficiently answer questions and manage complaints. You also need your employees to understand how to keep upset customers calm.
Another option is to offer incentives for team members who go above and beyond when it comes to helping customers. It can be a simple as a paid lunch with the boss or a gift card. Nonetheless, the recognition will make them feel more proud of their accomplishments.
After that, you must have a plan to ensure that phone calls aren’t left unanswered. For a small company, 24/7 availability can be difficult. Yet, there are answers. You can automate after hours calls with a virtual phone system. You can then route the calls based on your desired set up. You might configure your system to ring specific employees who have an after-hours schedule.
This way, you can offer 24/7 customer service without having to maintain full time staff overnight. A virtual system also comes with features such as call forwarding, a virtual receptionist and simultaneous ringing on several phones.
Hire seasonal staff
The holidays are usually the make or break time for many retail businesses. For some, it is the only profitable time of the year and provides the fuel to keep a business going. Understanding that customers save for holidays and special occasions helps you to become better prepared for an influx of purchases. You also want staff available at all hours of the day.
You might have full-time staff during the normal hours, and a few part-time staff overnight. The last thing you want is for orders to go unfulfilled or customers not getting responses. In addition, make sure your seasonal employees work alongside experienced staffers. Putting three new employees together equates to the blind leading the blind. Plus, your customers may question your commitment to quality.
Use the right technology
Now day, small businesses can compete on a larger scale thanks to the use of technology. Still, you must know your customer to deploy the right types of technologies. You don’t need to automate all your processes right away. Your phone system is a start, as you need to be responsive. Still, how responsive do you need to be? Are you aware of the top five reasons your customers call you?
How are you handling orders? You might need to automate your order taking process with a CRM system. Moreover, when there are changes in demand, you should have the facilities to support that. You can use a cloud communication solution that offers the ability to only pay for the storage and services you use. You might pay for more storage and services during the busy holiday season. This way, you are always there for your customer with no down time.
Don’t lose your customers. These guidelines are straightforward, but you must stand out. By following them, your small business can overcome the 24/7 customer service challenge.