Improve Your Small Business Customer Service with 14 Tips
As a small business owner, you are probably aware of the importance of offering first-rate customer service to the development and success of your enterprise. It can enhance your entire reputation and brand image in addition to helping you to retain current consumers and draw in new ones.
In today's competitive market, it's important to go above and beyond in meeting the needs and expectations of your customers. In fact, a recent study from American Express showed that 33% of people would consider switching companies immediately after receiving poor customer service.
This article will explore customer service tips for small businesses to provide a top-notch client experience.
Why Is Customer Service Important for Small Businesses?
Most of us know that providing good customer service is important, however, it might be a little harder to express why this is true. By understanding why customer service is important you'll be able to better understand why investing in it is a good idea for your business.
There are 4 principal reasons why investing in customer service might be a good idea for your business.
- Customer satisfaction & revenue: Providing high-quality customer service leads to increased customer satisfaction, which can lead to loyal customers and repeat business. It can be particularly important if your small business has a limited customer base. A study found that 89% of businesses with customer service that is significantly above average had better revenues than their competitors.
- Competitive advantage: It would be surprising to learn that your business is in a competitor-free space. Providing exceptional customer support can differentiate your small business from your competitors, giving it a competitive advantage in the market.
- Brand reputation: Providing high-quality customer service can improve your business's brand reputation, making it more attractive to potential customers.
- Improve product or service: Providing excellent support can provide valuable customer feedback that can be used to improve your product or service.
Good customer service is essential for providing assistance and support to customers before, during, and after they purchase your products or services. And happy customers are not likely to switch to your competitor.
In fact, a recent study showed that a bad experience will almost make your customer switch to your competitor. The same study showed that 64% of consumers think that pricing is less important than their experience.
While it might be hard as a small team to provide a good customer experience and it can be tempting to automate your customer support, it's important to make sure the interactions you have with your clients provide value and respond to their needs.
Creating a positive reputation for your business is an amazing asset to develop. Indeed, study showed that 72% of customers will share their positive experience with others. After all, word of mouth from happy customers is one of the most powerful forms of marketing.
It's well known by now that keeping customers is better in the long term than continually attracting new ones. and clients who had a good experience are more likely to stay and repeat their purchase over and over again.
Another aspect of customer service that is less talked about is the fact that it provides a great communication channel with your clients. It can be valuable to gain insight into your product or service from people actually using it and to discover new segments or use cases that you didn't think about in the first place.
What Makes Good Customer Service?
Great client service is only as good as the people delivering it. After all, they are responsible for managing customer interactions and ensuring that clients are happy with their experiences.
To make it efficient, helpful, and personalized, you should follow some key aspects:
- Communication: Being able to effectively communicate with customers, both in terms of listening to their needs and expressing information clearly.
- Empathy: Understanding and being able to relate to the customer's perspective, and showing genuine care and concern for their satisfaction.
- Responsiveness: Being able to efficiently address any issues or concerns that your customer may have, and providing timely solutions. all the new communication channels, people expect faster response time than ever before.
- Problem-solving: Being able to identify and resolve issues and challenges and to provide solutions that are satisfactory to the customer.
But you might be wondering how can you make sure the service you provide actually answers these questions. Well, it has been proven that we're not good at analyzing if the service we provide is good or not. So why not use your interactions with your clients to gain some valuable feedback and work on the parts that could be improved
Overall, great customer care is about making your clients feel valued and satisfied and going above and beyond to meet their needs and expectations. With the customer service best practices, you can ensure that you’re offering a great experience to your clients.
The Best Solutions for Your Small Business Customer Service
A great way to ensure you can offer a great customer experience to your customers is by using customer service software to manage all inquiries. We've already covered the best customer service email software in another article, but here's a summary of the 5 best solutions to help you offer the best customer support.
|All small businesses looking for a powerful and affordable solution
|Starting at $14/month
|Businesses looking for a ticketing solution
|Starting at $18/month
|Businesses that need a knowledge base solution
|Starting at $25/month
|Bigger businesses with large team
|Starting at $19/month *on a year contract
|Business using other Freshworks solutions
|Starting at $18/month
14 Tips for Successful Customer Service in Your Small Business
As we’ve seen, offering great support is crucial for any small business. We've gartered the best tips that we've observed from our own experience to help you bring your customer service to the next level.
While our goal isn't to help you build a customer service plan from the ground up. We think these strategies will provide a way to implement a consistent and effective way to manage interactions with your customers.
We also recommend you have a look at our best practices for customer service guide to learn more.
Here are 14 small business customer service tips you should start using.
1. Show Love and Care
Showing love and care helps to foster a positive relationship with clients. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can ultimately result in repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising for your business. Additionally, showing love and care can also help to reduce the likelihood of negative customer experiences, which can damage the reputation of your company.
In a small business, where every customer matters, demonstrating love and care can be a valuable tool for building and maintaining a successful customer service experience.
2. Use Feedback to Improve
It can be beneficial that the feedback from your customers is used by your company to help improve the overall customer experience but also your product and/or service. Your clients are in the best place to let you know what works and what doesn’t with your offer.
You can also use their feedback to develop new features, new products, or new services as you will probably learn what are the limitations they are facing.
3. Offer a Comprehensive Self-Help Resource
According to an article published in Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers attempt to resolve problems themselves before contacting customer service. Creating resources your users or future clients can access 24/7 to solve and answer their basic questions or problems can help your business, no matter what you’re offering.
A comprehensive and easy-to-navigate self-help section on your website can bring many benefits:
- Provide customers with immediate answers to their most common questions, which can save them time and effort to reach out to support. This can also free up your customer service team to focus on more complex and urgent inquiries, allowing them to provide better service to customers who do need to contact them.
- Improve the overall customer experience by making it easy for customers to find the information they need quickly and efficiently. This can reduce frustration and improve customer satisfaction, leading to higher levels of customer loyalty and retention.
A well-designed self-service section on your website can provide numerous benefits for both your customers and your customer service team. However, you should make sure that your knowledge base content stays accurate and that it is updated regularly.
4. Be Effective
Being able to efficiently and effectively solve your customers’ problems and meet their needs is important for small businesses because it helps to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
According to a study done by Statista, 27 percent of the respondents cited lack of effectiveness as the primary cause of their customer service frustration.
When customers feel like their issues are being addressed in a timely and satisfactory manner, they are more likely to continue doing business with the company.
Try focusing on effectiveness in your customer interactions instead of just trying to resolve the most tickets in the least amount of time. This way, you can avoid frustration from your clients.
5. Give the Same Level of Support to All Customers
Giving the same support to the smaller clients as you would for the bigger ones can be beneficial for your business. Often the smaller ones are the most public in their praise and love for your product.
Small businesses often rely on word of mouth for their reputation, and if a small customer feels neglected or not valued, they are more likely to speak negatively about your business to others. On the other hand, if a small customer feels valued and receives excellent customer service, they are more likely to spread positive word of mouth and potentially bring in more business.
Giving the same level of support to all customers also shows a level of fairness and consistency, which can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers are more likely to continue using a business if they know they will receive the same level of support every time.
Furthermore, as a small business, you probably have limited resources and may not be able to offer different levels of support based on the size or value of a customer. Treating all customers equally allows your company to utilize its resources efficiently and effectively.
6. Follow-Up with Customers
Following up with customers has been a big win for us at Missive since the very beginning. When you’re small, you don’t have all the features that some of your bigger competitors might have.
We’ve followed up on emails 2+ years old. People were a lot more impressed that we did follow up after all this time than annoyed, especially since we were shipping a feature they wanted or that blocked them to try Missive to begin with.
7. Be Honest
Honesty is a crucial aspect of excellent customer service because it helps to build trust and credibility with your customers. When you are upfront and transparent about your products and services, customers are more likely to feel confident in their decision to do business with you.
If one of your customers has a problem or complaint, it is important, to be honest about the situation and take steps to resolve it in a timely and satisfactory manner. It demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and can help to prevent negative reviews or complaints from spreading.
At the very beginning of Missive, we weren’t afraid to refer people to competitors. That is also when follow-ups are important. You have some leads that you have redirected somewhere else, but you know you can eventually reach back with a good chance to convert.
Being honest means being upfront about your products and services, including any potential limitations or restrictions. It also means being open and honest about any mistakes or issues that may arise and working to resolve them quickly and fairly.
8. Be Responsive and Available to Customers
According to HubSpot Research, 90% of customers say “immediate” responses to customer service questions are important or very important. In addition, according to 60% of customers, "immediate" means within 10 minutes.
While answering all customers’ questions within 10 minutes might be hard for a small business with limited resources, it is still important to be responsive and available to your clients.
When customers feel like they can rely on a company to quickly and efficiently address their needs, they are more likely to return and recommend the business to others.
Additionally, being responsive and available can help small businesses to identify and resolve customer issues more quickly preventing small issues from turning into larger problems that may be more difficult and costly to fix.
At Missive, we rarely have emails sit in the team inbox for more than a few hours. The right balance between immediate (a lot of questions get answered by themselves if you give people a bit of time and good self-help resources) and too long (you do want your customers to feel like you’re dedicated and responsive) has to be found.
Overall, being responsive and available to customers is an essential part of providing good customer service, and it is especially important for small businesses that rely on customer loyalty and repeat business to thrive.
9. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Getting overwhelmed by the support of customers’ requests can result in poor communication, slow response times, and a lack of attention to detail. This can lead to frustrated customers who do not feel valued or heard, which can ultimately harm the reputation of your business.
At Missive, it’s been a tremendous weight off our collective shoulders when we started using assignments to stop receiving replies that were assigned to someone else. We know we’re all always a single @mention away.
With good customer service collaboration, team members are not overwhelmed. They can take the time to fully understand customer needs and provide personalized, efficient solutions leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
10. Know Your Product
As a small business owner, you probably know your product or service down to the last detail. But by making sure your team is knowledgeable about your product or service, they will be able to better understand and address customers’ questions and concerns. This can help to build trust and confidence with clients.
Knowing your product also allows you to be proactive in addressing potential problems or issues that may arise. If you are familiar with the product or service, you can anticipate potential issues and work to prevent them from occurring. This can save you time and resources, as well as improve the overall customer experience.
In addition, having a deep understanding of your product or service allows you to better tailor your customer service to the needs of your customers. You can offer personalized recommendations or solutions based on your knowledge of the product or service, helping to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
11. Offer Personalized Service
By treating your customers as individuals rather than just a transaction, you can differentiate yourself and stand out from competitors. This means going above and beyond to ensure that each customer feels valued and appreciated. Taking the time to understand a customer's unique needs and tailoring the service to meet those needs can help build strong, long-lasting relationships.
When a customer feels like they are being treated as an individual rather than just a transaction, they are more likely to return to your business in the future. This helps to increase customer retention and can ultimately lead to increased profits.
12. Be Present on Multiple Communication Channels
Having a presence on multiple communication channels allows customers to choose the method that they feel is most comfortable and convenient to use.
A study from Statista found that 42% of customers prefer calling, 20% prefer emailing, and 38% prefer digital channels to contact customer service.
Depending on the industry, these numbers can change. And chances are, if you’re a SaaS, emails will be among the preferred methods to get support.
Being available on multiple platforms, like email, SMS, live chat, phone call, and social media is a great way to build a good relationship with clients.
13. Use Canned Responses
You are probably getting a lot of the same questions over and over again and manually answering all of them can be time-consuming, especially for a small team. Canned responses are a great way to make replying to these emails a lot faster.
Templates also allow you to ensure that all responses to common questions are consistent and that your customers receive the same level of service and information no matter who they are interacting with within your business.
Using canned responses can also free up time for your team to focus on more complex or unique customer inquiries, allowing for better and more efficient customer service overall.
However, as we’ve seen in the previous tip, personalized service is the key. It’s best to personalize these templates with variables to make your reply more friendly.
14. Use the Right Tools
Using internal tools for customer service can greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the support provided. With good collaboration software for small businesses such as Missive, you and your team can easily work together to track and respond to customer inquiries, resolve issues more quickly, and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Overall, using technology can help you provide better, faster, and more personalized service, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and ultimately, more business for your small company.
There are many tools and platforms available that can help your business improve its customer cares, such as live chat, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and a messaging system.
These tools can help you to respond to customers quickly and efficiently but having to switch between all these apps can be counterproductive. With Missive, you can gather all your communications channels in one collaborative communication tool that integrates many other tools you might already be using.
In order to maximize customer satisfaction, gain a competitive edge in the market, build a favorable brand reputation, and develop your products or services, exceptional customer service is crucial for your company. Effective communication, empathy, responsiveness, and problem-solving are all key components of a positive customer experience.
By implementing the 14 tips discussed in this article, you can improve customer service and provide a top-notch experience for your clients.