The end of the year is headed towards us full steam. Before we know it, we’ll be in the hectic holiday season and then, bam! 2020 will be here. There’s nothing like the upcoming close to the year to create some urgency in your business. As a small business owner, you’re taking stock of what worked well this year and what can be improved in the upcoming year.
One area you should include in your annual planning is your customer service plan and how it can help you accomplish those lofty goals for next year. Focusing on the customer service your business provides is an exceptional way to boost overall performance and there’s no reason to wait! If you’re looking to really wow your customers in 2020, here are five simple ways to get started now.
Stay Available, Especially on the Phone
A lot of businesses, new and old alike, are forgoing the phone as a point of contact. This is a missed opportunity. It’s a fact that 81 percent of consumers prefer to speak with an actual person on the phone regarding service issues. In addition, providing a number for your customers to call allows your business to personalize their experience — no contact form ever did that.
It’s difficult for small business owners to deal with customer phone calls, or perhaps hiring in-house help isn’t in the budget. Outsourcing your phone calls to a live answering service is cheaper than hiring in-house staff and live answer agents are also customer service aces.
Increasingly, social media is becoming a popular communication channel for customers. Whether you’re personally utilizing it or not, people are engaging with your brand via social media. Smart Insights found that 63% of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, and 90% of social media users have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand or business.
Furthermore, if your business isn’t on social media, it is imperative that you incorporate a plan for social customer service as a part of your overall customer service plan for 2020. Not only is it an expected channel for customer care, but it’s also a great way to engage with your current customer base and even gain new ones.
Incorporate Live Chat
Live chat is a huge value add to a business’s website and customers love it, too! In fact, 63 percent of online consumers said they were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. The ability to chat with a business allows customers to ask questions while they shop, ask a quick question about how something works, or give instant feedback about your business. Not to mention, being able to type a quick solution is a massive time-saver since the end of the year is the busiest time for support agents.
One important tip: if you aren’t prepared to manage chat sessions all day long, make sure you note hours of availability on your site. This will ensure you don’t create a mob of angry customers who think you’re ignoring them.
Never in the history of language has the word “proactive” had a negative connotation. Everyone appreciates someone who anticipates their needs. If you want an experience that will really wow your customers, it’s important to assess customer pain points so you can proactively help to avoid them altogether.
Maybe this comes in the form of sending out onboarding emails that include tips for getting started with a product. Maybe you create a knowledge database that covers every aspect of your product. Maybe you follow up with each customer within a certain amount of days from the time they purchase your product. Whatever you can do to create an easy experience will always dazzle your customers.
Show Your Appreciation
Your customers love you. They return to your business all the time and let you know they are telling everyone they know about your service. Wow! That’s a big deal. Not only does it feel good to please your customers, but they are also helping your business to grow. It’s time to give a little something in return.
There are several things you can do to show your appreciation to your customers, and what better time than the holiday season? Here are a couple of ideas for telling them how much they mean to you:
- Help them to give back. Offer to donate a portion of each sale to a charity of your choice. Not everyone takes the time to volunteer. When companies offer to donate on a customer’s behalf, it’s a win-win.
- Incentivize your business. A great way to say thanks to those loyal customers who have brought you even more business is to offer them incentives. Scale it to your business and tailor it to your industry.
- Lock pricing for the most loyal. This is such a huge perk and feels extra luxurious to customers. They will feel like they are part of the in-crowd.
As you look back over the customer service you’ve provided in 2019, we are certain there are things you can improve upon. Taking the time to come up with a strategy to better serve your customers will create a more loyal faction, increase your customers and ultimately add to your bottom line.