How to build a strong service program; tips for better customer service. Why is customer service important to your business? What is good customer service from the perspective of your customer?
Building an exceptional service and support program for your clients is a necessity for sales growth and client retention. Customers want to buy from businesses that provide service that is reliable, consistent and exceptional.
The importance of delivering excellent service to customers is of key importance to the success of your business. Put yourself in your customer's position: would you want to buy from a supplier who provides mediocre, average or even good service when instead you could buy from a supplier who provides excellent, 'knock-your-socks-off' services?
What is good customer service? Or rather, what is excellent customer service? It is anticipating your customers' needs. It is ensuring that even if you make a mistake (or they make a mistake), that you work to minimize the impact of that error. And, if it's your problem, that you stand behind your product or service and ensure that you make it right; even if it costs you money to fix the issue. Use these tips for better customer service to improve your services.
Good support is also about caring about your customers' business; because if you care (and if you focus your business on delivering a services program that supports your customers) you will get closer to your customers and help them grow their business, which will help you grow your business.
Ask your clientss how they feel about the services you provide. Produce a customer services survey and send it to your clients at least once a year. Make it anonymous so that they feel free to 'tell the truth' as they see it. Have them rank your services on a scale of 1 to 5. Ask them to compare your services to your competition's support.
Ask for feedback on all aspects of the business: from phone answering, online ordering, your website, your shipping/warehousing, your warranty program, your client support staff, your sales staff, your product and/or services line-up, and more. You want to hear what your clients think; but remember you must act on that feedback and communicate what steps you've taken to improve your service.
As a small business owner it can be difficult to have enough staff to provide the level of service that your customers want (it must be better than your competitors). Seriously consider outsourcing: warranty programs; phone answering (a live person is always better than a voice mail system: it provides customers with a level of comfort); website development; product introductions; product features and benefits information sheets; and much more.
When you outsource this work, you might hire someone to focus on one aspect of the business for a highly concentrated effort for a period of a month (as you launch a new product or new services). Or you might want to hire someone to work one day a week for a long term basis. Or one person for 2 or 3 hours a day. Fully explore your options and find a person who is the right fit for your organization; even if they are only providing short term and/or part-time support.
Do follow up regularly. Don't wait for your customers to complain to you. Call them. Ask them if they were satisfied with the processing of their last order. And ask them to share areas for improvement because you genuinely want to improve your support (and your business). If customers believe you care about them, they, in turn, will care more about you.
As a small business owner, you cannot control all the client interactions for your business but you can manage them. Set up excellent programs and procedures to enable better or good customer service. Train your staff to provide the best customer services possible. And then make sure that your customer service management program supports your staff; use the tips for better customer service.
You want your clients to be more than satisfied; research shows that satisfaction will not keep customers with you ... service experiences that delight, amaze, astonish (you get the idea - it's more than satisfaction, much more) will keep, and gain, customers.
Recent research also shows that small businesses that focus on delivering good client support (I like exceptional even better) have a higher survival and success rate than those who don't think it's all that important.
If you have customers who are delighted with the experience of buying from you, you will not only have them return for more but they will become great referrers of new business and new customers.
Delivering good customer service has become a competitive strategy: competitors can take away your customers not only on price, but also on services.
If your competition manages to amaze and delight and you simply satisfy (or worse), they have an advantage over you that will be hard to overcome.
Effectively running a small business means that you need to build a business operations plan, business plan outline, a strategic plan, and a marketing plan outline; do not forget to build a plan for good customer service management. And then execute your plans!
Eliminate Bad Customer Service.
Find more Customer Service Tips
Return to Good Customer Service.
Focus your customer service efforts on the highest value activities; these are the actions that will provide your business with the best return on your investment of resources.
Review your sales by customer at the product or service level (by type). Then analyze your direct and full costs by product or service.
Your goal in gathering, and then analyzing, the numbers is to compare the costs by products and services and then by customers; you want to know which products and services are the lowest cost and which customers provide your business with the best value.
This will help you focus your business resources to provide the most service and support to high value customers.
What's the gross profit margin by customer? Rank your customers not only by total sales but by profitability; and by sales by product or service.
If you have specific products or services that you know are more profitable than others you will want to focus your attention on the customers buying those more profitable items and/or you will want to encourage customers to buy more of the profitable product or service lines.
Note: A number of accounting software systems provide the capability to run these reports quickly and easily.
Providing customer service that consistently delights (rather than just satisfies) results in long term customers.
Your business' commitment to exceptional quality; the reliability and consistency of your service (your customers like to know that they can expect the same product or service, and the same level of support, on each and every order); and highly trained and knowledgeable staff are all key attributes to developing successful relationships with your customers.
Focus your business on more than satisfying customers; make delight a number one goal.