While large corporations are everywhere, Americans tend to prefer working with smaller businesses whenever possible.
Small businesses are seen as more accessible. They aren’t bound by rigid policies that don’t make sense like corporations, and they’re often perceived as being heavily involved in the local communities. Customers often trust them more and feel more invested in the business itself. One study even found that 90% of Americans hold favorable views of small businesses, and only 61% said the same about corporations.
Running your own small business means that you get to do things your way, and that includes your brand’s customer service.
Offering customer service that’s personalized to each individual customer and tailored to your specific business is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and exceed your clients’ expectations. In this post, we’re going to take a close look at exactly how you can do this to improve retention rates and bolster your brand reputation.
Set General Guidelines Your Team Can Use to Make Decisions
Small businesses have an immediate advantage when it comes to customer service in that they typically aren’t bound to the same strict rules that large corporations have to keep things regulated.
It is possible to take things case-by-case, coming up with more personalized solutions for each individual problem as your team sees fit.
In order to take advantage of this perk, a lot of businesses find that it’s useful to set up basic guidelines for their customer service team to use as a suggested framework but to give them the tools and autonomy needed to make decisions on their own.
You may have a general policy, for example, that all missing deliveries are reshipped instead of being issued a refund, but allow your customer service team members to decide when to offer a refund as a solution to specific customers.
Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
When your customers call with a question, concern, or complaint, it can be helpful to understand who they are and what their relationship with your brand is.
A VIP client who has been a big purchaser for years, for example, would likely appreciate some recognition of their value to your brand and may also have higher expectations for service. Being able to identify these clients quickly is important.
A frustrated customer who has reached out about the same issue they’re calling about now on two separate occasions would likely become even more annoyed if you offered the same solution you had before. A quick review of the customer in your CRM system could show you past customer complaints and steps taken previously to resolve the solution.
There are tons of great solutions out there. Hubspot is a popular one, and Salesforce is great, but there are plenty of tools that come with a variety of different features and price points. Take some time to find one that works for your business.
Go Where Your Customers Are
This is a facet of customer service that is sometimes overlooked.
Personalized customer support isn’t just about finding great solutions, but it’s also about being where your customers want to reach you.
Phone support is still a major priority; many customers still prefer to talk to a representative over the phone, especially about urgent or sensitive matters. Hubspot research shows 48% of customers want to use the phone for customer service – over live chat and “contact us” forms.
Phone support shouldn’t be the only form of communication you offer, however. Set up live chat on your site, or at least have a fast-response email option. You should also be checking your social media profiles daily for incoming messages and public comments to ensure that you aren’t missing any communications from your customers.
Take Advantage of Third-Party Support
Offering personalized support does take more time than simply going by the books without customizing solutions to your individual customers.
If you’re struggling to manage this bandwidth with your internal team, the good news is that there are tools that can help with this.
Reliable, high-quality answering services are often a great solution when you’re struggling to keep up with the influx of calls and you don’t want to rush interactions with your customers. Having extra external team members ready to answer the phone means that you won’t have to sacrifice on call quality or quantity, which is essential.
Hiring an answering service like PATLive, for example, can offer customer service to your customers exactly as you would. (Plus a lot of other great benefits too) We take the time to learn about how your business functions and how you handle customer calls.
We can tackle a brunt of the incoming calls for you, doing everything from collecting lead information to processing payments. And if there’s ever a customer service concern we can’t address, we’ll patch them through to the right team member right away.
Personalized customer service is becoming an expectation; it’s no longer necessarily extraordinary in its own right. This means that you must be adapting, offering outstanding service that’s tailored to your customer base, giving them the “small business experience” in all the right ways.
If you ever feel overwhelmed with customer support needs, remember that there are plenty of tools you can turn to. CRM software, for example, makes customer relationship management much easier, and social media management tools allow you to monitor and respond to incoming messages quickly. Live answering services like PATLive can also take an enormous burden off your staff, allowing us to help you deliver outstanding service to your customers even when your hands are full.