Army of One: Customer Service Tips for the Small Business Owner
Customer service is difficult. It’s the one aspect of owning a business that seems to elude many small business owners. Customer service is a critical component that can completely undermine your great product. According to Forbes, businesses in the United States lose $62 billion due to poor customer service. As a small business owner, what are you supposed to do if even the big brands struggle with customer service?
This article will lay out some tips to keep your customers happy and buying from you whenever they can.
Be Available on Many Outlets
With the rise of social media, today’s customers expect you to be available on a variety of different channels. That means in order to meet your audience where they are, you have to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. If you don’t have or haven’t been paying attention to your social media accounts, it’s about time to start. Social media is a much more effective method of communicating with your customers due to the immediate nature of the platform.
Make Timely Responses
When you have a problem with a business, like a faulty or damaged product, you will want a quick response time to your issue. Nothing is more frustrating than needing something from an organization and getting nothing. On the business side, it can really cost you. According to a survey from The Social Habit, 42 percent of respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product or company through social media will expect a response time in under 60 minutes – and 32 percent expect one in under 30!
If you can’t afford to have a dedicated social media representative, then it’s up to you to pay attention to all of your channels and respond in a timely manner – that means making sure your notifications are turned on!
Ask for Feedback
You can’t possibly hope to improve without being aware of where your opportunities are located within your business. You may be too close to your business to see any potential flaws in the user experience. A customer feedback survey is a great way to get a solid view of what the customer’s experience with your brand was like. Did they find your website useful and intuitive or clunky and awkward? Did the product make putting up with a bad website worth it? What specific areas of the website could use an update?
There are a great many number of ways to create a customer feedback questionnaire, so find what’s right for yours and ask customers to fill it out after making a purchase. For example, if your business is to sell your furniture online, after a client buys a side table or nightstand, ask them to fill out a short survey about their experience.
Respond to Negative Criticism
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, a whopping 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much a personal recommendation. Any critique, good or bad, can and will impact your profit margins. This is why responding to customer service requests in a timely fashion is absolutely critical to your business. It only takes an instant for someone to post something negative about your brand and another instant for hundreds (possibly thousands) to see and form an opinion about your brand. Your business will look engaged if they are seen to be actively trying to repair or remedy the situation with the dissatisfied person.
Due to the viral nature of the internet, a poor response time or none at all, can spread like wildfire. Responding positively to negative feedback will help secure your reputation to potential customers.
Don’t forget customer service when you’re crafting your business plan. You must remember that without them your business will flounder, so take care of them!