Small business owners are always looking for strategies to attract customers, retain them, and turn them into lifelong ambassadors for their businesses. A number of business owners try what might seem like every approach under the sun without success, from adopting the latest technologies and web techniques to offering the latest products or spending untold amounts of money on advertising.
However, it is becoming clear that the single most significant element that distinguishes a successful small business from an unsuccessful one may be the degree to which the business can establish a personal relationship with its customers. In other words, beneath all the glam and dazzle of ads and gadgets, the people element may be the most essential.
For most businesses, there is a considerable amount of room for improvement in this area, as it simply is not something that many businesses think of until they need to. However, having and implementing quality and consistent customer service standards can take any small business far farther than any gadget or new angle in advertising. Here are some of the best strategies in customer service standards a small business can take advantage of in order to generate and maintain a loyal base of customers.
First of all, keep in mind that no customer service standards can be higher than the quality of the personnel who are providing the service. In other words, if you want a quality output, you’ll need a quality input. Too many small businesses try to cut costs wherever they can by providing their employees with minimal training, with next to no benefits, and with the lowest wages allowed by the law, and then wonder why their customer service reviews are so poor. You’ve got to value your employees for them to value your customers; people help people, so give your people plenty of reasons to be helpful.
Secondly, remember that your employees are going to treat your customers the way they are treated by the management. How do you greet your employees each day? Are you polite when you work with them? Are you enthusiastic? Do you try to make their requests happen whenever possible, and do you take the time to listen to your employees when they bring questions to you or simply want to talk?
These are things we should be doing each day as small business owners, but they are all too easy to forget. However, if we don’t do them, we can’t expect our employees to. You’re going to be a role model for your customer service interactions whether you plan to be one or not; do so deliberately.
Third, do you know exactly who your customers are? This doesn’t simply mean knowing who your target markets and demographics are; it means being able to recognise the people who value your business enough to patron it on a regular basis. If a customer who has come to work with you came into your store today, would you recognise their face, voice, and most importantly, name?
This is often overlooked, but personalisation is key to quality customer service. People like to feel important, and an easy way to do it is to take the time to get to know someone’s name. If you can call your customers by name, they’ll soon start to realise you value them as people, and not just as potential spenders.
In conclusion, high quality customer service is becoming more apparent to small businesses as an essential component of their success. Keeping certain factors in mind such as the financial value and training you invest in your staff, your daily interactions with your staff, and your knowledge of your customers will help you put your best foot forward in customer service.