Customer service is at the heart of every business which wants to build customer loyalty and retain them for a long time. It does not matter if you are the CEO of a large corporation or a small business owner, the principles of customer service are the same: strive to exceed customers’ expectations, to add value to your products and services, and to listen to your customers whether they praise you or they criticize you.
Of course, small businesses do not have the same advantages as large companies – they cannot afford to hire many employees, lease call centres, or order market studies and professional surveys in order to keep a constant outlook on their customers’ attitudes towards their company.
However, there are many effective and affordable ways in which you can connect with your clients and deliver stellar customer service, without spending a fortune. Today we will discuss five of the smartest ways in which you can keep your customers happy on a budget:
1. Use Social Media as a Call Centre Platform
There are many things Facebook is good for, and one of them is allowing your customers to share their experience doing business with you, ask questions, and even vent their complaints. Although it is desirable to address complaints in private messages, always take the time to post on the public thread the fact that the issue is being dealt with.
The aggravated customer is not the only person monitoring that thread, but also many others, who are waiting to see how your business treats such situations and assess how much they can trust you.
2. Empower Your Employees to Deliver Great Customer Service
As a small business, you have a great advantage over larger companies: there is no complex hierarchical chart. If you have one person covering the customer service activity, make sure that your employee is authorised to take necessary action without losing time seeking approvals to the right and left.
One way in which businesses fail to react quickly to a customer complaint is through going from one department to another, from one boss to another, seeking their approval. You should hire people you trust, and empower them to take decisions and solve problems as quickly as possible.
3. Use Free Survey Platforms
SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular online survey platforms, because it offers both free and premium services depending on the complexity of the survey. Every once in a while, you should send a survey to your newsletter subscribers or invite your Facebook followers to take it, offering a small reward for their time.
Surveys are extremely useful for many purposes:
- You can test new product ideas before you implement them
- You can find out how happy your customers are doing business with you
- You can discover why some of your products and services are not very popular among clients
- You can discover helpful and innovative suggestions for new products and services.
4. Go the Extra Mile
Nothing is too much when it means keeping your customers happy and loyal, especially in today’s competitive business world. The angry customer you let go thinking that you can do very well without them, will take their anger to online forums and the social media. The customer whose helpful feedback you implemented quietly without giving them credit will feel used and betrayed.
It does not cost you anything to post a public thank you, and it costs very little to offer a complimentary discount to an unhappy customer as a means of saying sorry. But in the long term, these small tokens of caring will bring you great rewards.
5. Make Customer Service a Teamwork Objective
Everyone in your small business should be responsible for ensuring a great shopping experience for your customers. Everyone should bring their contribution and everyone should have a voice, offering suggestions and innovative ideas. Also, your customers should know that there is a whole team working for their satisfaction, so do not be afraid to feature your employees in interviews, blog articles, behind-the-scene videos, and so on.
In these simple but smart ways, you will always be on the same page with your customers, you will know what they expect from your business and you will be prepared to offer them products and services which exceed their expectations.