For small businesses, building relations with customers is the most effective way to grow your brand and promote sales. Small businesses that prioritize customer service tend to be the ones that succeed, while those that don’t focus on ways to improve and maintain customer relations often find themselves falling behind.
A lot has been written about how to engage customers through social media and online. Those are great and innovative ways for businesses to reach out. But the bread and butter of customer service is in the office and on the phone.
Phone calls are often the first contact a customer has with a small business. Since we know that good first impressions are crucial to generating new business and attracting customers, phone courtesy is a top priority.
Ensure that each member of your staff has been trained to answer the phone with an upbeat, welcoming voice. Phone conversations should not be treated as a chore. They are a key pillar in both a good marketing strategy and a good customer service approach.
Each member of staff – from the front desk to the back room – needs to be ready to answer questions and offer help to customers who call with concerns or feedback. Doing so sets the stage for a positive experience with your business. A potential customer is never an interruption from work, but rather the reason for work in the first place!
Improving phone waiting times can also make a huge impact on customer attitudes. Few things make customers more frustrated than having to wait a long time to talk to a human being.
Train your employees and explain carefully what to do
Inconsistent rules and procedures are frustrating for team members, whether they have been with your business for a long time or are just starting out. Making policies understandable and training staff on procedures will make expectations clear and reduce frustration. Explaining to staff why certain guidelines exist helps them understand that procedures are in place for a reason and are not just arbitrary.
No customer wants to hear an employee say, “I don’t know why it’s this way; this is just what I’ve been told to do.”
Go over scenarios with your staff and anticipate situations where your team members can provide outstanding customer service.
Remember your customers
Developing a relationship with customers or potential customers starts with remembering that person’s name. It seems like a simple thing, but just saying, “Hi Bill. Nice to see you again!” can really make Bill feel like your team considers him more than just another guy walking in the door. Being remembered makes people feel more at ease and builds trust between customers and staff. Train your team members to remember names, previous questions customers have asked, and other small details. Doing just a little to make someone feel valued can make a huge impact on customer satisfaction.
Listen to negative feedback and be responsive to criticism
Nobody likes hearing negative feedback. But we all make mistakes, and smart businesses are able to turn negative feedback into constructive solutions. If a customer has a complaint, engage that person and resolve the problem by going above and beyond. Showing a genuine sense of concern can take a negative experience and turn it into something positive. Small businesses don’t operate in a vacuum; they rely on word-of-mouth. When a customer has a bad experience, he or she will tell friends and relatives, who will think twice about who they would prefer to do business with.
Small businesses are under a lot of pressure to stay competitive in today’s market. What sets them apart is their ability build relationships with customers. Building and maintaining relations starts with developing a good customer service initiative and taking customer concerns seriously.
SRJ Marketing Communications works with small businesses to develop customer service programs that work. With 25 years of experience, SRJ specializes in customer service training and helps small businesses develop positive relationships with their communities. For more information about customer service training and communications services, call SRJ at 214-528-5775 to schedule a consultation.