There’s no time like the present to take stock of the ways in which your small business can improve. As I discussed in part one, an area business owners should consider evaluating is the quality of customer service they are providing.
Customer service can never be automated or left as is; it should always be evolving, and business owners must actively engage in and improve upon their service strategy. If you choose to ignore how your company interacts with its customers, be prepared to lose a ton of business.
According to Walker Info, customer experience will outweigh price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020.
I’ve already covered the value of hyper-personalization by pulling from all of your customer data, how in-person service should never be overlooked, and that incorporating live chat can increase sales and improve service.
Here are a few other factors small business owners should consider when evaluating and revamping a customer service strategy.
Don’t Get Rid of that Phone
I used a new app to order Christmas gifts for my parents. The app went haywire, so I wasn’t sure the orders were correct or even going to the right places. I searched all over the place for a phone number, but had no luck; the only way to connect was through email. I didn’t get a response for nearly 4 days. Worse still: one of the gifts ended up on my doorstep even though they confirmed the correct address. It was so disappointing and could have been easily resolved with a call.
The majority of consumers still want the capability to call and speak person-to-person with a representative. In fact, a whopping 81 percent still prefer the phone over any other channel. This is particularly true of customers who have issues that aren’t easily resolved over live chat or social media or even email. The problem: not all small businesses are equipped to take customer calls. Using a live receptionist service gives you and your employees freedom from the phone and is usually more cost effective than hiring in-house support staff.
Employee Happiness Matters
Happy employees are one of the main cornerstones of creating a business that delights its customers. And it’s extremely obvious when people hate their jobs or have no room to be an individual within their position. A basic fact of life is that unhappy people bring others down. But what causes so much angst in the workplace?
“When people are hampered and hemmed in on every side by pointless bureaucratic processes, rules, fear, hierarchy and stupid management decisions, they can’t relax into their jobs,” Liz Ryan wrote for piece featured on Forbes. “They can’t move an inch without having to get somebody’s signature or go see a committee.”
It’s important you allow employees to be experts within their position. No adult likes to be micromanaged. Employees who feel they are trusted to make the right decisions will be happier and more engaged with your customers, as well as the success of your business.
Mobile usage has increased the need for consumers to find information quickly without reaching out to customer service. Enter self-service. In a study conducted by Coleman Parkes for Amodocs, 91 percent of respondents said they would use an online knowledge-base if it was tailored to their needs. Fret not, customer service heroes: 40 percent said they contact customer service after looking for the information via self-service.
Your knowledge base can be as simple as a thorough and complete FAQ page on your site, or you choose a tool where you create a whole library of information regarding your product or services. You can even utilize YouTube as a video knowledge base including tutorials on getting started to tips on getting the most out of your product.
Social Media is your Friend
Do you find yourself asking your kids or other younger folks questions like this: What’s a Snapcat? How do I do a Twit? What are you doing on the old Faceplace?
If your answer is yes, then you’re a social media Luddite. Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook are all great platforms for connecting with current and potential customers, chatting with industry leaders and providing customer service. Many consumers visit social media before they purchase a product or service. An ignored or sporadic presence may send them packing.
Posting frequently and interacting with your followers will ramp up engagement on your accounts. Bonus: posting your own content increases your credibility with search engines.
Now it’s your turn! What sort of measures are you taking to create crazy good service in 2016? Share with us in the comments!