As a small business owner, it is often easy to acknowledge the importance of providing effective customer service, but it can be a daunting task to create a viable and sustainable program with limited resources. In the Small Business Administration (SBA) blog, Small Business Matters, Community Moderator Caron Beesley, offers some helpful tips in the post, 3 Simple Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction Today.
Listen and Learn
Listening is key to effective customer service and it can also help boost your profitability. Here are two ways to prove to your customers that you are listening–and tips on how to make it count:
- Everyday Customer Interaction – Show you are listening to your customers by taking notes or repeating back what your customer has said. Listen to their words and tone. Observe their body language. Provide them clear and concise communication. Ask clarifying questions to gain understanding before you provide a response. If you can’t respond immediately, be sure to provide a timeline for response and make a note in your calendar to do so. Follow up, confirm the resolution and check for customer satisfaction and completion.
- Facilitating Feedback – If you don’t have a reason for face-to-face interaction with a customer, look for ways to stay in touch and show you are listening and eager to keep the lines of communication open. For example, follow up with a customer after a sale to prove to your customers that you want to hear from them. Hand out in-store or post-sale surveys to find out what they’d like to see from your brand—and stay active on social media (more on this below). Customer service is, after all, about meeting the needs and expectations of the customer as defined by the customer. By soliciting feedback and using that information to inform your business you will find new ways to ensure your business is relevant to them and hopefully open new lines of profitable opportunity.
In order to have effective customer service, you must know what your customers want, provide it to them on a consistent basis and ask them how you are doing.
Look For Ways to Treat Customers As You Would Like To Be Treated
Remember, how you and your staff communicate with your customers is just as important as what you communicate. Remember that your customer wants to see the sunny side of you and your business, so have your filter on and put yourself in their shoes.
A good way to instill this attitude among your staff is to do some simple role play in which they act out a few scenarios that involve both easy-going and difficult customers. Observe how they handle the situation and coach them on areas to improve.
- How are customers being greeted? — Put them at ease and make them feel comfortable! This sets the tone for the rest of the transaction.
- Demonstrate that your customers are valued — Let them know you think they are important. Your sincerity makes them feel good about you and the organization.
- Ask how to help your customers — Find out what they want. It is important that each customer encounter makes them feel satisfied.
- Don’t challenge disgruntled customers — Listen, reassure them that you’ll escalate or act on their complaint and follow through until resolution.
- Help customers — Help them get what they want. Make it easy for customers to locate or obtain the information they need. Answer their questions in a timely manner.
Carry Customer Service Across All Your Customer Touch Points
Remember to carry through on your customer service goals wherever your business has a presence. This means both online and offline. More than ever, social media is a systematic part of your customer service model, so if you have a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and so on, be sure you are actively listening, engaging, monitoring and responding to your customers online. This blog offers some tips that can help: How to Use Social Media to Do a Better Job of Customer Service.
Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley
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