No matter what your company does, without a steady stream of customers, you will not be in business for long. No business, no matter how well capitalized, can survive without its customers, and that makes customer service an essential business function.
If your business is not taking its customer service seriously, you are putting your operations and the livelihoods of your employees at risk. But there are things you can do to turn the situation around, so you can turn those unhappy customers into avid ambassadors for your business and your brand. Here are 10 simple ways to increase customer service quality at your small business.
- Conduct satisfaction surveys: If you want to fix your customer service problems, you need to know what the deficiencies are. A short and sweet customer satisfaction survey can help you spot troubling trends, so you can fix what’s wrong and start making it right.
- Give front-line representatives greater agency: The men and women who field customer service calls are your first line of defense, so give them the tools they need. Allowing customer service representatives to solve common problems is a vital first step to improving satisfaction.
- Encourage feedback and customer interaction: If you want to improve customer service at your business, look for new and creative ways to interact with your customers. From social media outreach to company blogs, there are plenty of ways to encourage feedback and constructive interaction.
- Have a customer service strategy: If you do not have a formal customer service strategy, you are simply winging it. Take the time to create that strategy, and make sure everyone in the company follows its directives.
- Improve your quality control processes: The best way to deal with customer complaints is to stop them from happening. Enhancing your quality control can reduce returns, slash costs and improve customer satisfaction.
- Sharpen your own skills: You may not be a customer service representative, but as an owner of the company, you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens at your company. Sharpening your own customer service skills will allow you go field the really tough cases – the ones your front-line representatives are unable to resolve on their own.
- Hire the right people: The men and women you hire will become the face, and the voice, of your company, so tighten up your recruiting practices and screen applicants carefully. Turnover is costly – far more expensive than hiring the right people from the start.
- Invest in technology: Saddling your customer service representatives with slow computers and unresponsive software is like tying one hand behind their back. Invest in the right technology to improve your customer service and give buyers the satisfaction they deserve.
- Eliminate bottlenecks: Production bottlenecks slow delivery and frustrate customers, so look for ways to eliminate them. Enhancing your supply chain can speed up production and ensure timely delivery of every order.
- Learn from your competitors: You can learn a lot from your competitors, so look at what other companies are doing right – and doing wrong. You do not have to stick to your own industry; you can learn a lot from the successes and failures of small businesses in every niche.
As a small business owner, you have a vested interest in keeping your customers happy. No matter what your business does, the customers you serve ultimately pay your employees and keep your lights on. How you treat those customers’ matters and improving your customer service will be good for business – and for the bottom line.