Customer-centric employee smiling while working with a client.

Customer Service Advice from 17 Small Business Consultants

That’s right! Here’s a treasure trove of customer service knowledge from 17 leading consultants, from accounting wizards to content-creating wordsmiths. We asked each of them to weigh-in on the topic of customer service and communication, and each of them delivered with a unique perspective. Topics range from clever branding to enhancing responsiveness across channels of communication to just shutting up and listening to customers. Read up!

Establish a Solid Process Using Tools & Automation

Build and keep a customer service playbook. Ninety percent of all support related questions are related to the same common problems. Save time and answer customer support requests faster by build a support FAQ or internal knowledgebase. All of your support staff can reference this document to quickly find answers to common questions. In many cases, they can copy and paste canned messages. If you want to take it a step further, make your knowledgebase public as a Help Doc section on your website.
 James Milliron –

As a project manager, not having a communication plan to deal with all the different stakeholders can lead to disaster. Informing the customer how communication will be done will instill confidence from the customer. It will also ensure communication is disseminated with accurate information and everyone receiving the same message.
Cerila Gailliard – OYS LLC

Pour on the Communication – put the customer first using internal communications within the company.  Give the customer easy and specific ways to communicate directly with the company. After paying for the product or service they should not experience the run-around.
Roger Knecht – Universal Accounting Center

Be Accessible & Quick

Use all points of contact, written or verbal, to thank, connect, extend the relationship. Address the reason for contact then go beyond…offer a suggestion, send the link to an interesting article, ask about their other goals/needs, ask them for a favor.
Sharon Woodhouse – Conspire Creative

Make sure you answer anyone who is trying to reach out to you on social media. The key word with social media is “social.” It’s meant for people to interact. If they’re trying to interact with you, reciprocate.
Jack Anzarouth – Digital Ink Marketing

100% of the time, follow up the same day anyone writes you a note, email, Amazon negative post, or gives you feedback about your product or service. After you communicate with them send a follow up note, email, phone call or a written thank you note (my #1 preference) to say thanks for the feedback and specifically what you are doing about it.
Wayne Strickland –

Ask Questions & Listen for Feedback

Stop pitching and start listening. One of the hardest things for business owners to do is to stop talking and start listening to their customers. It’s great to be able to pitch your product or service to potential customers, but often, if you just stop and listen, you won’t need to make the hard sell. By listening to customers’ needs and pain points, you can address their specific requirements while also building a relationship.
Puneet Gangal – Aciron Consulting

Ask more questions than they do. Clients like to be asked questions about themselves, and if you ask the right questions you can get important information pertinent your project. Ask great questions so you can better help them, and they will see how you’re really invested in their success.
Nicole Faith – 10 Carat Creations

Really listen to your customer either by talking with them when they are there, making a personal phone call or asking for suggestions. Ask them if this were their business, what would they do differently?
Dr. Gayle Carson – The SOB Club

Establish a Personal Connection using Customized Communication

Take the time to create custom recommendations. If you give the same advice to everyone, the client may as well just read a book. You will find that even situations that look outwardly similar may be quite different. Don’t try to fit everyone into a formula.
Shel Horowitz –

Just because you’ve conducted a thousand projects doesn’t mean you know everything you need to know about the next one. You can’t forget that every organization struggles with unique pain points as they pursue unique goals and objectives. Always remain cognizant of what makes your client different and take pains to show you’re aware of these facts.
Leigh Merz – Source One

Often with small businesses, at the end of the day your customers are doing business with YOU, not your company. Be authentic, sincere and consistent across the board. There are a million generic best practices to building your customer experience or customer service system, but nothing beats a personal, human connection.
Kerri Moriarty –

Go the Extra Mile

Offer an unconditional money-back guarantee. Most people are afraid to do this but no one has ever asked for it. And yet, willing to offer it in the first place separated me from the pack as a trustworthy, quality firm.
Adam C. Conrad – Anon Consulting

Under-promise and over-deliver.  Most people know what their capabilities are, never promise a client something unless you are sure you can deliver on that promise.  In fact, you are better served to promise a little less than you believe you can deliver — that way, the client will be pleasantly surprised when you surpass their expectations.
Lindsey Myers – Concrete Blonde Consulting

Build a Customer-Focused Brand & Culture using your Employees

When a customer feels welcomed, cared for, confident that they’re in good hands, it’s always because the person serving them has put their satisfaction at the front of their mind. Employees first means customers first.
Aaron Schmookler – The Yes Works

Empower your employees. Happier employees really do mean happier clients. Empower your consultants with the authority and the tools to improve their client experience and watch employee (and client) engagement soar.
Theresa Santoro – Actualize Consulting

Start by defining your brand – an authentic, unique, simple message about who you are and what you stand for. It should guide every touchpoint including all communications and customer service.
Jesse Ghiorzi – Charge

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