Interested in boosting customer service at your small business? If so, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself how well your team executes it. Spend some time on the floor, investigate weaknesses, highlight strengths, and devise a strategy for improvement; there’s always room to get better. Customer service is important, especially if competition has a leg up on you, so learn how to provide a higher level of customer service by checking out these six ideas today.
1. Be More Cordial
When customers visit your store, greet them or make sure your team does. If they make a purchase, thank them for it. If they’re leaving without spending any money, ask them to come back soon. This stuff is basic, but plenty of businesses just don’t practice it. Don’t believe me? Think about your own recent experiences at retail stores.
2. Get Customer Input
Although a customer comment card may seem contrived, it can give you good insight on how to boost your service. If your business is online, try a digital customer survey. Some websites have basic, free templates online, like iPerceptions and Opinionmeter. Anything you can do to get commentary from your actual customers can be of great benefit to you. It should be honest, straightforward, and usually without bias.
3. Recognize Stellar Customer Service
Let’s say you run a restaurant and one of your servers is waiting on a child who wants macaroni and cheese. Your eatery doesn’t serve it, but your server gets a busboy to run across the street to get a side order of it from a competitor. If any of your team members exert this kind of effort, they should be recognized. Get them a gift card, give them a shout out on social media, or highlight the story at the next staff meeting. Recognition goes a long way toward promoting better customer service.
This is a key aspect of customer service, and believe it or not it can save you real money. Plenty of dissatisfied customers only want to be heard—they don’t want a freebie or a refund. Sure you may encounter some who do, just be sure to listen to your customers when they’re upset and try to accommodate their requests.
5. Overcompensate Unsatisfied Customers
If you’ve got upset customers on the sales floor, don’t try to resolve the situation over the phone with a district manager when you could be calming them down one-on-one. Always go the extra mile when resolving these situations. If they want refunds, grant them plus coupons for 10% off a future purchase. Even though this negatively affects your bottom line, it can improve it in the long-run if you convert those dissatisfied customers into loyal ones.
6. Use Mystery Shoppers
A mystery shopping initiative can serve your business well, and give you unbiased, customer-centric feedback that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to from polls or social media. Regular folks visit your business, observe its customer service, and complete a questionnaire about their experience. Then, you’re typically provided a report of all of relevant commentary. Just be sure to take the results with a grain of salt. Some reviewers may be off the mark, and you never want to penalize your team over a subjective opinion. Check out the trade association website of Mystery Shopping Providers to get started.
Whichever methods you decide to employ, be sure you practice what you preach. Plenty of businesses these days can provide competitive pricing on a product or service – it’s the way they’re delivered that can make the difference. Take a deeper interest in the level of customer service, and once revenues improve you’re going to be glad you did.
What other ways can you think of to improve customer service?
Author: Dave Baker writes about personal finance topics as well as strategies to improve business processes and marketing. He is based in Atlanta and runs a small business reselling electronics and other consumer items online.
Published: June 27, 2014