You may not be straight from the pages of a comic book, yet you toil day in and day out. You answer the desperate calls of those in need. You fight tirelessly to beat your competitors. You fall down and then pick yourself back up with tenacity and herculean strength. You may not be a superhero in the classic sense, but you are most definitely a small business owner.
Starting and growing a small business is not for the weak, the meek or the faint of heart. These owners have to be brave in the face of adversity and lead with the ferocity of a lion. If your business is growing rapidly, you’re likely harnessing all of your power to keep up with all the daily minutiae. In the simplest of terms, being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming. Once business starts to pick up, it’s easy for things to get lost or forgotten. And one area that usually gets hit the hardest: customer service.
Why does a small business’ customer service often take a back seat? Usually the owner is left with a full inbox or voicemail, and not enough hours in the day to answer everyone’s inquiries in addition to all of the other work that needs to be done in order to make the business run. This can be disheartening. Entrepreneurs know that if their customers aren’t happy, the money will dwindle along with their satisfaction, and with it the dreams of a successful business.
So, what can be done for a rapidly growing small business whose customers are being left behind? It’s time to put on that cape and be the superhero you are, dear business owner. It’s time to create and integrate some solid customer service systems that will help you attract new customers and retain your trusty enthusiasts. Here are some steps any small business owner can take to create a winning customer service strategy.
Create Customer Service Guidelines
Regardless of the size of your business, it’s always wise to have some guidelines in place for how you want your customer to be treated. One way you can begin to make things easier on yourself, Wonder Woman, is to focus on a set of customer service guidelines. No doubt this is a daunting task, but a necessary step in creating a consistent customer experience. Also, you won’t always be alone.
Wonder Woman thinks she can manage a rapidly growing small business all by herself, but there will come a time when she needs to call on some help. Customer service guidelines will make it easier to communicate your expectations when onboarding new staff. Here are some items you should consider including:
- Communicating with the Customer
When planning out a customer service strategy, deciding on how you will communicate with your ever growing customer base is a choice. A good starting point is to figure out who will be responsible for answering or returning phone calls and email. Then, you’ll need to consider an appropriate length of time to return calls or emails.
- A Complete List of Products or Services
Someone new to your business could have a broad understanding of what you do, but might not know about the entire scope of products or services you provide to your customer. It is essential for any new staff to be well versed in your business’ specialty.
- Escalation Ladder
No matter how great your product or service may be, you are going to have customers complain. Some of them will even get extremely angry. Another important aspect of a tight customer service plan would map out how to properly escalate an issue along the chain of command. This is especially important if you have others working for you. Not all employees will be comfortable handling the really intense situations that can arise.To make it clear for all staff, you could include: deals or discounts staff could offer to unhappy customers, and circumstances when you would handle a customer issue. For example, you could include a stipulation where you would handle the customer if their transaction is over a certain dollar amount.
Drawing up customer service guidelines will give your entire staff clarity on how best to handle your customers, especially in an escalated case. But if you want a broader scope on your customer’s entire journey, it may be time to consider creating a customer experience map.
Map Out Your Ideal Customer Experience
Another step that will help you gain clarity on your customer’s every move, Batman, is to create a customer experience map. What is this map of which we speak? Copyblogger shared this definition:
“[The experience map] is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand,” says Adam Richardson, “not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”
If you really want to know about your customer’s perception of your business, whether it’s to provide better customer service or to market to them more efficiently, mapping out the total customer experience can be extremely beneficial. An effective map will give the entire business insight to deliver maximum results. Want to read more about creating a customer experience map? Check out our free eBook to learn more about the process.
Owners of a rapidly growing business really are a lot like superheroes – their time is divided among a zillion tasks, yet they make it look effortless. Even superheroes have a threshold – that’s why they have sidekicks. If your business is growing, you have to grow your customer service with it. Customer service guidelines, along with mapping out your customer’s full experience, gives everyone a 360 degree view while creating accountability.
And what does a superhero love more than a bird’s-eye view and accountability? Not much.
It’s your turn! How have you grown your customer service with your small business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.