Great customer service is an important element of any successful business. But for small businesses, it’s absolutely critical.
Large companies have many resources at their disposal to build an image and make sales, including dedicated marketing teams, branding consultants, and large advertising budgets. But small businesses rely on repeat customers, word of mouth, and referrals for the bulk of their revenue.
Many small business owners don’t even realize that they’re providing inadequate customer service. Not only does this hurt their bottom line, but it also puts the future of their business in jeopardy.
Here are five common mistakes to avoid:
Being Hard to Contact
Great customer service starts with being available. How can a customer get in touch if it’s hard to find your contact information? Locating your email address and phone number should be an effortless process.
A contact form is another great resource for allowing customers to reach out, ask questions, and provide feedback. The more options you include, the easier it’ll be for a customer to contact your business.
Slow Response Time
Every customer deserves a response. If you’re ignoring customers, that’s a huge problem that needs fixed immediately. Every customer also deserves a quick response. No one should have to wait around for weeks while your business answers their question or solves their problem.
Most small business owners don’t have the time to efficiently respond to every customer. That’s fine. There are many options available for streamlining the process, such as delegating email follow-up or implementing an automated help desk system.
Not Properly Utilizing the Telephone
Don’t underestimate the importance of telephone customer service in the internet era. Many people still prefer talking to a person in real time. Your number should be easy for customers to find and the phone should be answered consistently.
If your staff is often unable to answer the phone, there are many affordable alternatives. You can hire a small business virtual receptionist to handle incoming calls or use a call center service provider. Either solution allows customers to reach an attentive representative for your company.
Failing to Train Staff
Customer service is a group activity. At small businesses, most employees will have some level of interaction with customers. Each customer interaction can impact the image and reputation of the entire business, so make sure that every team member knows how to handle these interactions.
The most important thing is to train them to be courteous, understanding, and helpful at all times, even when facing complaints. They should also do their best to meet deadlines and fulfill any promises that were made to the customer.
Not Asking for Feedback
Most customers won’t volunteer information about the positive and negative aspects of your business. But that information helps you determine what you’re doing right and what needs work, so you should seek it out.
Make it convenient for customers to fill out surveys, forms, or feedback cards, whether online or in-person. It should be anonymous to encourage participation. Including a small gift, such as a coupon or gift card, can also help to encourage participation.
By focusing on these five areas, your small business can have exceptional customer service. This leads to a solid reputation, increased customer retention, and additional referrals. Ultimately, these elements will improve the long-term success of your business.
This post was originally published on the CMS Customer Service Blog.
5 Common Small Business Customer Service Fails