Getting your small business off the ground and running takes a lot of hard work, and the last thing you need is any loss of business due to substandard customer service. The customer services offered through your company should not only attract customers, they should keep current ones happy, and satisfy the customers who aren’t.
This isn’t always easy, but if you learn to take the bad with the good, and aim to make the most out of every interaction with your customers, your small business will be one step closer to success. These three tips highlight different customer services your small business should offer to keep those customers coming back again and again. (Guest post)
Customers are no longer willing to wait 3-5 business days for a response.
Live Response Time
We live in a world of instant gratification. When your customers have a problem, they will expect a solution almost immediately. Most small businesses lack the resources to man their phones 24/7 but there are some fantastic options available.
Social media is the new frontier of customer satisfaction. Twitter and Facebook are great platforms for responding to any issues in real time, and you can easily set the hours and response times customers can expect.
In a recent study done by Lithium Technologies, they found that 53% of customers expected a response from a company through Twitter in less than an hour. That number rose to 72% if the customer had a complaint.
Offering your customers instant service may seem like a lofty goal, but it is one that your small business should get on board with as soon as possible.
Positive, negative, doesn’t matter. Use it.
Embrace Negative Feedback
Nobody likes to see negative feedback from their customers, especially if it has been posted online for all to see. While negative reviews of a business can quickly turn into a PR nightmare, they can also provide your company an open door to redeem yourself.
Once you know that you have an unhappy customer, you have the power to address their problem and turn the negative into a positive experience. Listening to your customers is one of the most important things that you can do as a business. These negative reviews are likely pointing out a larger problem, and now you can fix it.
Embracing the negative feedback your company receives is also a necessary part of maintaining your online reputation. All small businesses should expect to be Googled, and when those reviews come up in a search, prospective customers will want to see how you responded. If the the negative feedback has been ignored, that will be noted and they will quickly move on to a competitor. If, however, they see that your business responded, found a solution, and left that unhappy customer satisfied – they will be more likely to stick around.
Throw in some extra beans for the girl.
Add Unexpected Value
As a small business, you want your customers to be with you for the long haul. A great way to do this is by adding additional value to the services you currently provide. This can be done in a variety of ways, from providing knowledge based value to concrete additional services.
Consider offering discounts or special offers to current customers who have been with you the longest, rather than using offers as a ploy to bring in new ones. This will make them feel appreciated, and stay loyal to your business.
When you need to invest in something that a client offers, why not reciprocate their business by using their services? Taking the customer-business relationship to a partnership has immeasurable value, and increases your overall worth in the customer’s eyes.
Lastly, provide those little extra touches that will have a big impact on your customers. Add in extra services free of charge, expedite an order for a loyal customer short on time, provide bundled package deals at a lower cost, or even recommend a partner business for a service you can’t deliver. Customers appreciate these little extras, and will be all the more likely to keep coming back, knowing that they are valued.
If you have yet to figure out the magical secret of small business success, I will give it to you. Success is not about getting new customers (although that is an important aspect), it is about keeping the ones you have. Having customers that return to your business over and over again is what will ultimately enable your business to grow. Providing customer services that keep your customers happy and loyal should be a goal of businesses small and large alike.
Jessica Galbraith runs her own freelance writing business, and is author of the blog The Fly Away American. When she isn’t working on improving her client relations, you can find her travelling around the world.