Customer service for a small business tends to be leaner because smaller companies don’t have many resources. However, this shouldn’t stop you from delivering great service to customers.
While you may not have the funding or the equipment, you can use creativity to craft customer service improvement strategies that work for your company. Read on for the top ideas to improve customer experience!
The importance of customer service for small businesses
You know that customer service is essential regardless of business size. But what makes small business customer service especially important? Here are five reasons why delivering excellent customer service is integral for your company.
Build trust among customers
Excellent small business customer service leads to satisfied customers. In turn, satisfied customers come back with more business in the future.
Delivering good customer service regularly also builds up loyalty and trust among your regular customers — a recipe for customer referrals.
It takes a long time to build trust and customer loyalty, but it sometimes takes only one mistake to lose them. However, if you’ve built up enough goodwill with your customers, they may forgive the occasional slip-up.
Stand out from competitors
If you work in a field with multiple players offering similar products and services, exceptional customer service is key to stand out from the crowd.
All products and prices being equal, customers are more inclined to buy goods or order services from a company that provides great customer service. Plus, customers tend to prefer companies with good customer service because they know that the business is committed to solving their issues if they encounter a problem.
Get more referrals
As a small business, you may not have a lot to spend on promotional materials. That’s why referrals are even more important for your business growth.
Referrals are a relatively free form of customer acquisition because you simply need to deliver a great customer experience to get them. Referrals and positive reviews are very effective means to growth as 83% of people trust product recommendations from friends and family.
The role of small business customer service here is to send your customers home happy and with a reminder to recommend your product to others. If they love your product, they’ll happily recommend it to their social circle.
Find more upsell opportunities
Getting new customers is almost always more expensive than retaining existing ones. It’s the job of your small business customer service team to “soften up” customers by providing great service.
This way, when your sales rep approaches your existing customers, they trust your business enough to be open for cross-selling and upselling offers.
Empower your employees
Customer service is a great way to improve employee engagement. If you build a company culture where opinions are valued, your employees may generate new ideas to improve your customer experience strategy.
This way, they have a personal stake in seeing that idea succeed and may end up providing a higher level of service to make customers happy.
The 8 small business customer service improvement strategies you need to succeed
Now that you’ve learned why small business customer service is important, it’s time to learn how to improve it. Here are some great ideas to improve the customer experience!
1. Listen to your customers and collect their feedback
One of the most important ways to improve customer experience is to listen and read reviews. People love being heard and listening to customer feedback is a great way to gain valuable insights and show that your company cares.
However, as a small business, you may have limited resources and can’t perform large-scale customer research. Try one of these easy methods to improve customer service through feedback instead:
- Customer satisfaction surveys: One of the best ways to know what customers think about your business is through surveys. Attach these customer surveys to your mailing list or send them out after purchase to gauge satisfaction and prompt reviews.
- Feature requests and voting: Sometimes, your customers come to you with requests or queries about features or services that should be added to your offering. Encourage your customers to have a stake in the process by creating feature request polls. This helps you identify what new features should be developed first.
- Social media channels: Social media is a great way to engage with customers and see what they think about your company. A customer service social media account also makes addressing customer complaints and questions easier.
2. Encourage empathy from your employees
Even the best customer service personnel aren’t worth much if team members don’t empathize with customers. Small business customer service is all about making connections and being invested in solving issues.
Your customer service reps are the “face” of your company and customers love to be met with a friendly face. Train your reps to empathize with customers and go the extra mile when it comes to solving problems.
3. Pick small business customer service metrics and set improvement goals
Metrics are measurable indicators of your team’s success in different aspects of the customer service process. Picking the right metrics means you can monitor how well your team is doing at actioning customer service improvement strategies.
Some key metrics for small business customer service include:
- Average first response time: This is the time between when the customer sends their message and when your customer service rep answers. People don’t like to wait for a reply, so faster response times are key here.
- Average handle time: This measures the time from when a representative opens a message to the moment they click send. Similar to first response times, faster replies are better.
- Average resolution time: This is how long it takes to completely resolve a client issue. Customer service reps don’t just need to be fast, but they also need to know how to solve the problem quickly. After all, nothing is worse than having to reach out about the same issue multiple times.
- Ticket backlog: A ticket backlog means your team has unresolved tickets that are still open after a certain period. Many factors contribute to this, like volume of messages, customer service rep performance, or dependencies on other teams.
Keep a close eye on your customer service team’s metrics. If you find that one or several of them do not live up to your standards, talk with your customer support team lead about how to better those numbers.
4. Ask your team for ideas to improve customer experience
Great customer service for small business isn’t a one-person show.
Your customer service agents know a lot about how to make the customers happy so ask them for ideas to improve the customer experience.
Another plus is that asking your team for suggestions sends the message that their opinions are valued in your company. This, in turn, increases morale and makes them more excited about helping customers.
5. Automate your small business customer service process
As a small business, you don’t have the time to deal with every little thing no matter how much you want to.
Fortunately, many software automate business processes like bookkeeping and appointment scheduling to support your team’s customer service improvement strategies.
One of these tools is Method:CRM! Method:CRM helps you boost customer retention, nurture customer relationships, maximize your marketing spending, and so much more through one app. It also syncs up with QuickBooks so you connect your transactions with your hub of customer details.
Here’s an example of how Method:CRM simplifies customer service for small business.
6. Use technology to power your small business customer service
Small business customer service is more convenient with the existence of technology.
One of the best examples of this is the online help desk, a platform that helps customer service representatives answer customer questions and handle issues from one dashboard.
Another great example is online self-service portals that allow customers to make bookings or file warranty claims without any assistance.
A good CRM platform is also one of the most important ways to improve customer experience. It can save customer data and previous purchase history, so you can easily arrange specialized offers or personalized product recommendations.
The above tools are sure-fire customer service improvement strategies you should implement if you haven’t already!
7. Personalize your customer experience wherever you can
Customers love to be appreciated, and personalizing their customer experience is one of the best ways to do this.
Personalization can come in many forms, from addressing them by name in messages to tailoring offers and cross-selling opportunities. If loyal customers feel loved and appreciated, they’ll likely come back for more business in the future.
8. Implement customer journey mapping
Your entire customer journey needs to be a delightful experience from beginning to end. To see if that’s true for your business, map out the process a customer goes through every time they buy something at your company.
Ask your employees to test out the journey and see how the experience feels. If they notice issues in the journey, fix them – your customers are likely going through the same thing.
Summary: 8 ideas to improve customer experience
Customer service is essential in both retaining customers and attracting new ones. Moreover, good small business customer service builds trust that saves your reputation when mistakes happen.
There are eight main ways to improve the customer experience for small businesses:
- Listen to customer feedback and value their opinions.
- Encourage your customer service reps to practice empathy.
- Choose the right customer service metrics to identify what needs improvement and measure progress.
- Ask your team members for ideas and implement them.
- Automate business processes like bookkeeping and appointment scheduling to help your team focus on more important work.
- Use technology like social media, online survey tools, and CRM platforms to improve customer service.
- Create personalized offers and marketing campaigns that target individuals.
- Map out the customer journey to identify any issues in the process.
With these ideas to improve customer experience, you’ll gain trust and become the favorite brand among your customers!
See how Method:CRM helps you provide excellent customer service!
Image credit: Amina Filkins via Pexels