Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Customer Service Tips For Your Small Business

As a small business owner you know the importance of keeping your customers happy. However, many businesses fail in doing so simply because they don't know how to develop and implement "good customer service" strategies.

Here are some useful tips on how you can apply good customer service strategies that will keep your customers happy and your business booming!

  • Identify your target customers- What type of customers will your business attract? Who are they? What are their needs? Start by doing some quality research on your customer demographics. The key to making your customers happy is to understand what they really want.
  • Anticipate your customers' future needs- Not only is it important to determine what your customers want now, but also what they will need in the future. This will help generate loyalty and repeat customers. You can find out your customers' wants and needs by:
    • Conducting online customer service satisfaction surveys. (Some free online survey sites: http://freeonlinesurveys.com/, http://www.surveymonkey.com/, http://polldaddy.com/) 
    • Phone/email survey 
    • Product testing- Find out what your customers prefer by allowing them to try free testers or even allowing your employees to do the testing. For example, find out which flavor is in more demand, chocolate or vanilla. Have people taste the flavors and gear your business accordingly. 
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  • Don't make promises you can't keep- A lot of the times a business will lose a customer because of unfinished promises. You want your customer to be able to rely on your business and trust that whatever promise you make, you will complete it in a timely manner. For example, imagine if you were promised that your bedroom furniture will be arriving on Monday, but instead arrives on Thursday. You have every right to complain and be one not-so-happy customer. The same applies to your clients and customers. 
  • Be a good listener- It's important to hear your customers out. They have a voice too. In addition, listening to your customers will not only help your customer, but will also help your business. Talk about a win-win situation. By listening, you get a better understanding of what it is that your customer really wants. A good practice is to repeat back to them what your comprehension of their needs and wants are; this way you both are on the same page.
  • Get your customers to interact with you- Use your social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter to talk to your customers. 
  • Deal with the complaints- You're a business, and you're bound to get a couple of complaints here and there. You can't please all people, but you definitely shouldn't ignore the complaint. This can be a deciding factor of whether your customer is satisfied with your business. 
  • Apologize when needed- It can be difficult to apologize sometimes. But remember, you're a business, and every business makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, it's okay, it happens. Just make sure that you acknowledge it and make it right by the customer.
  • Answer your phone- You don't want to be that company that rarely answers phone calls. Answering the phone is your biggest advantage. A customer then knows that he/she can rely on your business and that they will always be helped. These days, technology makes it easy to be accessible 24/7. A cool feature offered by many phone companies is Find Me/Follow Me. It allows you to have calls forwarded to anyone and to any device - your place of business, your cell or another person.     
Customer service can either make or break a small business. Customers are not only looking for service, but also value. Show them that your service (or product) does just that by implementing customer service straegies that make them feel unique, and not just another number.