Sometimes, it feels like small businesses are being swallowed up by Internet giants, but the truth is that your small business is just as viable today as it was 10 years ago — if you’ve been keeping up with customer service expectations.
With immediate access to product information, research and reviews, customers are more educated than ever before, making them different than they’ve ever been. This new, informed customer base requires a different customer service approach.
Here are three ways that small businesses in the know are upping their customer service game:
Using technology to increase reach. If you have a retail location or a restaurant and you’re not online, you’re missing out on some golden opportunities.
Through social media, the web and mobile phone services, you can increase your reach exponentially and become the go-to when a potential customer has a question or needs information. There are a variety of tools that make this easier than ever before, including HootSuite and WordPress. Customers want you to be where they are, and it’s not difficult to make that happen with the right tech.
Asking for feedback. Taking customer surveys isn’t a new idea, but it is one that’s finding new life with today’s customer service crowd.
The problem with the growth of technology and a whole generation of people who grew up with unprecedented access to information is the never before seen customer market it has created. Many small businesses don’t really know how to best serve their customers, but a great first step is asking. In-store surveys, online surveys and mobile surveys are all opportunities to learn more about your customer base and what it takes to keep them unbelievably happy.
Increasing accountability. Customers are valuable commodities, they’re worth a lot more than a single sale or the cost of a single return.
When customers come to you with a problem, they expect that you’ll take care of it, no matter what. Companies who make managers easier to reach, go out of their way to make customers feel heard and overcompensate for mistakes are companies that will earn a customer for life.
Another easy way to improve your customer service game is to simply be available. That might sound trite, but customers increasingly want a personal touch — it’s the one thing that can set you apart from Internet retailers who rely on their websites to generate revenue.
When you’re competing with online retailers that can often provide the same products for less because of smaller overhead, it’s important to demonstrate the value of a small business to your customer base. Be an authority for them, but also be a friend. Quality customer service is key to a long business life and all the customers you can handle.