You've heard the sayings forever - patience is a virtue, and good things come to those who wait. While sound advice for nearly every other aspect of life, small business owners don't always have the luxury of time to sit on their hands while time works its magic - time is money and money keeps the doors open.
Fortunately, when it comes to one of the pillars of every small business, no matter the industry - customer service - incorporating just a handful of simple and straightforward best practices into your company's customer service can yield significant results. Whether you're a mechanic, dentist, gym owner, or real estate agent, improving your customer service can be a quick but extremely beneficial boost to your bottom line that can be easy on the budget as well as your already busy schedule.
Integrating a more personal but professional approach to your customer service that incorporates first-person interaction with your customer base will breed long-lasting loyalty that can serve as a powerful driver towards expanding that base. Following up that direct communication with a simple email only magnifies that personal touch that, when combined with the original interaction, can help your small business solidify steady cash flow and stave off competitors in a hypercompetitive environment. Yes, customer service really is that important.
The Benefits of Better Customer Service
It's impossible to overstate the importance of customer service in such a dynamic, fiercely competitive environment. It's the face of your small business, the image you present to your customers, and will ultimately be one of the most significant factors - if not the most significant factor - in your company's long-term success.
Furthermore, given the amount of time, effort, and money needed to attract new customers to your small business, it simply makes sense to do everything you can to retain those that you already have while continuing to expand your base. Poor customer service pushes you backward, not forward.
Put differently, your small business cannot afford to have poor customer service. When over half of consumers will never again do business with a company after just one poor service experience - and those customers tell an average of 15 other people about that poor experience - a single instance of bad service can have far-reaching consequences.
Alternatively, 70% of consumers are willing to spend more if it means working with a company that has excellent customer service and, of course, will continue to frequent them. Building on that idea, if your small business can increase its customer retention rate by just 5%, your profits can increase anywhere between 25% and 95%.
Take a Direct Approach With Your Customer Service
Technology is always most effective when it works in conjunction with the human hand, no matter if that's in customer service or a production line. In other words, while chatbots and automated messaging certainly have their time and place in your company's customer service, they should in no way function as substitutes for direct interaction with your customer base and their service needs.
Budget permitting, dedicating either an entire position or a significant portion of an existing one to customer service will give your business an advantage over competitors that are more frequently relying on purely automated customer service demands. Once again, while there's certainly a need for technology-driven efficiencies, both concerning cost and time, they are not replacements for direct human interaction.
Furthermore, merely having a person on the phones fielding incoming service calls is not enough. Whoever is providing that direct interaction between your business and your own important customer base needs to be appropriately prepared with well-worded but straightforward scripts to increase efficiency and overall customer satisfaction. As evidenced by the previously referenced, somewhat foreboding statistics, an ill-prepared customer service representative can do more harm than good if not adequately equipped with the proper training and resources.
Follow-up Emails Only Increase Customer Service Satisfaction
Your customer base wants to feel like they're more than just a number on a spreadsheet. To that point, recent research has shown that small businesses that exude a sense of empathy towards their customers are far more likely to retain them in the future. One of the most impactful ways to create that vital sense of empathy is by following up with your customer after a service need.
Granted, given our original premise, there's only so much time to go around for small business owners so, between the resources devoted towards direct interaction and follow-up emails in customer service, such efforts might strain already thinly-stretched schedules. In this instance, utilizing an automated platform that can follow-up with your customers after a service call can provide the essential human touch without a considerable investment of time. Whether you choose a manual or automated approach, however, try to send your follow-up emails within 24 hours of the initial call to enhance the excellent service impression you've already created with your efforts.
As both innovators and experts in email marketing for small businesses, we are committed to providing you simple strategies to help grow your company, along with convenient yet powerful technology to drive that growth well into the future. Contact us to see the difference a few customer service improvements made in a single afternoon can make for your company's long-term success.
About the author
Ken Korte is the founder of NW Business Connection. Ken grew his digital agency by using online marketing and then went on to help other local businesses do the same with their business. Ken started NW Business Connection to help local business owners market their business online, so that they can get their best customers coming in more often.