Winning Business with 5-Star Customer Service
- Providing 5-star customer service is one of the easiest ways for small business to stick out from their competitors.
- You don’t need to blindly follow “the customer is always right” rule, but you do need to make customers feel like you are on their side.
- If you make a mistake with a customer, then just be transparent, apologize, and move on.
- Educate your team on standard best practices for customer service.
- Consider creating a loyalty or rewards program, such as giving away something for free in exchange for 10 visits to your store. However, avoid short-term solutions such as Groupon or Living Social.
For many small businesses, one of the easiest ways that they can differentiate themselves from competitors–especially from big businesses–is to provide over-the-top, 5-star customer service. Just think about it for a second–imagine a time when you’ve had excellent customer service. Maybe it was the airline that gave you a complimentary free checked bag, or the restaurant that brought out small snacks to the reception area while you waited for the table? How did that make you feel?I bet it felt great!
Happy customers do 2 things for your business: 1. they keep buying your products, and 2. they tell others to buy your products. Investing in your customer service can mean big business for your company. Many people think customer service is an afterthought or a cost center when really it can be one of your most effective marketing tools. It helps you make more money from existing customers and lowers the marketing costs associated with getting new ones.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to providing top-notch customer service (however, in a later blog post, we’ll discuss a free tool that will make things a lot easier) Here are some guidelines that can help you as you start to build up your customer service practices. Let’s take a look at some of those best practices:
Obsess over your customers
The details will help you win business. For small businesses, in particular–you should invest time in knowing your customers’ names and purchasing behaviors. For a customer, there’s no better feeling than when a barista says to him, “Having the regular today?”
The customer is always right
It seems that this old adage has been around a long time. And while many businesses follow this rule religiously, it’s often been misinterpreted in modern settings. The customer is not always right no matter what. However, as a business owner, it means you should always be on the side of the customer. The customer should always feel like you are trying to help.
You must accept the inevitable fact that you will make a mistake. You will make many mistakes. And yes, more likely than not, you will make a mistake that affects your customers. When faced with an inevitable mistake, however, many businesses will try to sweep the problem under the rug. Please avoid doing this. Just be honest; your customers will respect you more for it.
Educate your team
Don’t put the burden of customer service solely on yourself. You have a team; don’t be scared to use them. You can create scripts for how each member of your team should respond to different customers inquiries.
Use training times to reflect on customer patterns and issues, and then brainstorm as a team as to how you can make the experience better for all of your customers.
Customer loyalty programs
Lastly, if you can, create a customer loyalty program. Loyalty programs give your customers an incentive for visiting your store repeatedly and making purchases. In return, they receive discounts or free items for accruing a set number of points. If you have a physical store, we recommend swapping out your paper rewards cards for a digital program. I really love the company Belly–you can use it to create a digital loyalty program personalized to your business.
You may be tempted to list your products on websites such as Groupon or LivingSocial–these are sites designed only for short term results. Sure, they will increase traffic to your website or store. However, you need to make sure to impress these first-time customers. Your goal is to provide over-the-top customer service so they become repeat customers. This will offset the costs associated with discounting your products and services on sites like Groupon. Make sure you try to convert them into a lifetime customer!
A token of gratitude
And finally, show some gratitude–it can be as simple and easy as a smile. Or it can be a mint on a pillow. This might feel small or unnecessary, but trust us, customers value being cared about. Often times, that extra service is what makes them come into one store over another. Sometimes customers are even willing to pay a bit more for great service. So spend time defining genuine ways to make your customer experience amazing. You won’t regret it!