The places I enjoy being a customer at all have the same thing in common: they treat people with dignity, respect, and, most of all, like humans. But not all small businesses get customer service right and it shows. You almost want to send them “How to Improve Customer Service” for dummies.
Customer service matters. 80% of consumers say their experience with a brand is just as important as the product or service they bought. That same percentage will typically switch to a competing brand after just one bad experience.
That says a lot.
Even those businesses with good relationships can benefit from learning how to improve customer service. We know great customer service can make an impact – but why?
Why Customer Service is Important for Small Business
Upping your customer experience game means you can keep money in your pocket instead of spending it on finding new customers. You can cultivate a rich, loyal following – a following that will talk to their friends and family, offer testimonials, and give stellar reviews.
Five reasons why customer service is so important for small businesses include:
- Keeping current customers is cheaper than acquiring new customers.
- Consumers view your brand, its mission, and values by your customer service.
- If your customer service team is happy, they’ll make your customers happy.
- Satisfied customers refer new customers.
- Great customer service builds loyalty and trust.
I’ve explained why customer service is so important – but the question remains HOW to improve customer service.
How to Improve Customer Service
The best tips for how to improve customer service are all about training, building a connection, and asking for feedback. Let’s take a look.
Start Your Customer Service Training Right Away
From the moment you hire a new employee, they should be actively involved in training that includes education on how to interact with your customers. This shows new hires what matters most to your business and illustrates your commitment to your customers. It’s also a good way to help new employees who might not be a good fit for customer service discover another position that’s better suited to their skills.
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Expressing empathy – really knowing how your customers feel and being able to convey it – is an important aspect of good customer service. Some people seem to be born with this natural understanding of where others are coming from, but empathy is a skill that can be learned. When a customer explains their issue, really listen to what they say – can you see this problem through the customer’s eyes? How does this problem make your customer feel? Honestly putting in the effort to hone this skill helps customers feel understood. It can neutralize conflicts and actually turn the tables – customers shown empathy are likely to return the favor.
Find Ways to Create Team Bonds
My friendships with my coworkers are some of the closest friendships I have. Having a tight-knit team isn’t just about employee satisfaction. Working relationships cultivate trust amongst employees. When there’s trust and your team feels like family, they can provide even greater customer service. Find ways your employees can get to know one another. Foster bonding by creating recognition programs, allowing team members to give public thanks or “awards” to other employees who’ve gone above and beyond, helped them with a tricky customer issue, or are simply a joy to have on the team. Adding a social element in business communications is another way to give shout-outs.
Offer a Way Your Customers Can Give Feedback
Even with the above three tips, it’s inevitable that you’ll have a dissatisfied customer eventually. It’s important to be on top of every problem that arises, but it’s also important to be in the loop when it comes to good experiences, too. The only way you’ll know how almost every customer feels about your customer service is to offer a way they can give you feedback.
Some of the easiest ways customers can give feedback is:
- Via email
- Pop-up surveys on your site
- Telephone surveys after phone calls
- Google My Business
- Review sites like smallbusinessaffairs.com
These methods can help you learn what you’re doing right and what could use improvement. It also helps dissuade unhappy customers from taking their bad experience to a more public forum, such as your Facebook or Twitter page.
Customer Service Never Stops
Feedback is an important step in the customer satisfaction journey. Make a conscious effort to get to know your employees and your customers. Feedback and reflecting on feedback is one of the greatest opportunities for growth. It will show everyone that you’re committed to offering the best experience possible for everyone involved.
Want to learn more about how to improve customer service and why it’s so important? Download our ebook, The ROI of Word-of-Mouth: How Better Customer Service Increases Small Business Revenue.