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How to improve customer service: Top tips for small businesses

As a small business owner, you may not have larger companies’ resources but need to find ways to improve customer service. In this guide, you’ll learn how to improve customer service in a way that drives repeat business and has you stand out among your competitors!

Why excellent customer service is essential

Before getting into how to improve customer service, let’s examine why it’s essential. Here are the top reasons to enhance customer service and why it should be one of your top business priorities!

Improve revenue

Revenue is the main driving force of most companies. It informs every initiative you take as you need cash flow to perform business activities and pay staff. 

Excellent customer service can satisfy customers by providing extra value and a better experience. Happy customers are more willing to purchase your goods or book your services, increasing revenue. 

Build company reputation

A positive company reputation does more than attract new customers. If people hear good things about your company, you’ll be more likely to get investment and partnership offers. When you focus on how to improve customer service, it also becomes easier to recruit new employees.

Building a good reputation starts with treating customers right, which is why you need to make one of your primary goals to enhance customer service.

Boost customer satisfaction and retention

Retaining regular customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones, so you save money when your customers are satisfied, repeat shoppers. 

A bonus of happy customers is that they’re likely to refer others to your business. As one of the cheapest ways to get new customers, more referrals bring your acquisition cost down while profits increase. 

Reduce customer churn

Your company will make mistakes that upset customers. No matter how careful you are, it’s an unavoidable part of doing business. 

However, if you provide a good customer experience, you can build goodwill among your customer base. While not all customers forgive easily, most are likely to let minor slip-ups slide because of their past positive experiences with you.

Improve team member innovation

If good customer service becomes part of your company culture, your employees will prioritize customer happiness in their work and take the initiative. This encourages your team to devise and act on new ideas to satisfy customers. 

Build trustworthiness in your brand

Your brand is one of the greatest assets you have. Knowing how to improve customer service and going the extra mile for customers builds trust in your brand. 

If customers see you as a trustworthy company, people will be more likely to buy from you.

Reduce marketing spending

Your marketing initiatives are vital in getting new customers. However, they tend to cost a lot of money, and most small businesses don’t have much to spend on marketing. 

Fortunately, word of mouth is free. If you enhance customer service and provide a positive experience, your customers become advocates. 

Customer advocates are loyal and keep buying from your company while recommending your products or services to others.

Stand out from the competition

You must make a better impression than your competition if you want to draw in potential customers and retain existing ones. 

Customers are more likely to spend money at businesses with excellent customer service, so this will help your company last longer.

Sustainability is a significant concern for small businesses because only half survive the first five years. However, when you know how to improve customer service, everything else will follow, as happy and satisfied customers are the key to business success.

Happy customers will vouch for your business if you want to show investors that the market needs you. If you keep the customers happy, your business will likely make more money and land investment opportunities.

How to improve customer service

Now that you know why excellent service is essential for all aspects of your business, let’s go through the different ways to improve customer service

1. Actively listen to your customers and collect feedback

The most important thing to do when trying to enhance your customer service is to listen. 

If you hear your customer’s concerns and suggestions, you can devise strategic ways to improve customer service at your business. 

One way to get customer feedback is to have short chats with customers as they leave your place of business. You can also use social media, email, and other digital marketing methods to gather customer feedback. 

Send online satisfaction surveys to understand what customers like and don’t like about your business. Then, review the customer feedback results to determine how to improve customer service.

2. Understand your customer needs and behavior

By understanding buyer needs and behavior, you can provide excellent customer service without expending too much effort. 

For example, imagine your customers calling in about one of your products because they don’t know how to use it. 

You can reduce these calls and free your customer service lines by providing an instruction manual with the product. You can also train staff to offer short tutorials on using the product. Problem solved! 

Knowing when your customers need something is essential if you want to be ahead of the curve. 

For example, consider promoting your services at a discount before spring hits if you run a landscaping business. This way, you have plenty of customers for when peak season starts.

3. Enhance customer service with empathy

The customer may not always be correct, but they must keep them happy if you want them to return. Angry customers connecting with a rude customer service professional ends in a bad experience and negative reviews. 

Instead, train your customer service representative to act with empathy by understanding customer issues and seeing the problem through their eyes. Empathizing with the customer makes them feel heard, which, in turn, makes them receptive to the solutions you have to offer. 

Plus, de-escalating situations allows your team to provide solutions without negatively impacting their call handling time and resolution rates. 

4. Identify what resources your team needs to do better

If you want your customer service reps to perform well, you must equip them to succeed. Even if your small business can’t afford top-of-the-line equipment and software, you should set aside some of your budgets to support your customer service team.

Ask your customer service team lead about their team’s recent performance and possible areas of improvement. From there, ask what tools or training could enhance customer service skills for the team.

In some cases, what your team needs is not training but time. If your staff are overworked, consider hiring new people to help out or look for a solution that automates some of their work. 

After all, employees with a balanced workload are more likely to serve customers better.

5. Prevent problems before they start

Your customer service agents are at the frontline whenever people come in to complain. Although, they’re (usually) not the leading cause of customer issues. 

A huge part of improving customer service is identifying where problems typically arise. Assess your internal product departments or vendors to determine any possible fault points. Then, address these issues to prevent customer complaints before they even happen. 

6. Set goals to improve customer service

Goals are essential to motivating employees and tracking their performance. Use customer service metrics like ticket backlog, resolution time, response time, and other measures to set goals for your team.

If they succeed, you know you’re doing something right and can challenge them to go further. 

On the other hand, if they fail, you get valuable insight into why and how your team fell short of their goals and the best ways to address the issue.

When setting goals, make them easily measurable and have a clear timeline so that deadlines are enforceable. Finally, clearly communicate your goals to enhance customer service with team leaders to prevent misunderstandings and conflicting goals.

7. Enhance customer service with personalization

One of the best ways to make your customers feel appreciated is to deliver a personalized experience. Start simple — even addressing your customer by name in automated marketing material like emails and SMS messages makes a difference.

Delivering personalized services and experiences is a great way to improve conversion and email clicks because you’re targeting the customer’s specific interests. Research by Experian found that personalized emails generate six times higher transactions than messages that are not personalized.  

“Personalized emails generate six times higher transactions.” 

— Experian, 2014. 

If you want more advanced personalization, many CRM tools act as a comprehensive database of your customers. 

You can create personalized product offers, discounts, and promotions for specific customers thanks to detailed customer analytics.

8. Reward customer loyalty

Loyal customers love recognition for sticking with your business, and there are plenty of benefits for your business. Loyal customers:

  • They are less likely to leave you for another brand. 
  • They are more likely to buy products time and time again. 
  • Recommend your company to their friends and family.

There are many ways to reward a loyal customer, like stamp programs, referral discounts, and cash-back incentives.

Whatever you choose, the important thing is to deliver significant value to incentivize future purchases and express gratitude for the repeat business

9. Automate your customer service workflows with Method:CRM

Technology has changed customer service, from customer portals to online order updates. 

Small businesses can quickly improve their customer service, even on a budget, by implementing customer service software like Method:CRM. 

Method:CRM lets you manage leads, close deals, organize sales data, and much more with one platform. Below is a video that explains the different ways Method:CRM can enhance customer service for businesses like yours.

By automating menial tasks like email and marketing campaigns, your customer service reps can focus on providing a human touch and ensuring customers get a positive experience, thanks to Method:CRM.

Recap: How to improve customer service

Excellent customer service is essential to keep your customer base happy. And when your customers are happy, you can expect revenue, customer loyalty, and team member morale to increase.

Here are the top nine ways to improve customer service:

  1. Listen to what your customers have to say and act on the feedback.
  2. Understand what your customers need and how they behave.
  3. Have your customer service representatives to assist with empathy.
  4. Identify the resources your customer service personnel need to excel.
  5. Be proactive in solving customer issues. 
  6. Define timely and measurable customer service goals.
  7. Make personalized product recommendations and offers.
  8. Reward customer loyalty through special promotions and referral discounts.
  9. Automate your customer service workflows with Method:CRM.

Now that you’ve learned how to improve customer service, it’s time to implement the steps. And once your customer service metric numbers go up and new customers come to your business, you’ll thank us.

Enhance customer service with your free trial of Method:CRM.

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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