Last week in Part I of Small Business Customer Service, I offered a few suggestions for improving your company’s customer service.
Today, I’ll continue on with more ways your small business can ramp up customer service with more world-class examples and some simple take-aways for your team.
Anticipate Customer Needs
When I think back to my restaurant days, anticipating the needs of a guest was as simple as making sure ketchup arrived at the table before their burger did. When it comes to your small business, how you anticipate the needs of your customers will not only be unique to the product or service you provide, but will be an important facet of your customer service strategy.
Train your staff to always put themselves in the shoes of your customers, so when answering one questions, they learn to anticipate and answer the next one.
World Class Example:
Take Six Flags. Their concession workers sell ice cream, but when Micah Solomon accidentally dropped his ice cream cone, the concession workers replaced it before he could even ask.
As he notes in his Forbes article on the theme park giant, “Six Flags trains its employees to watch for potential stress points in a customer’s day and to turn those experiences into something positive.”
Run a report in yours Method account showing when customer credit cards are due to expire, and follow up with customers for an updated card. They’ll appreciate not having their service disrupted and you reduce the risk for increased A/R. Double win!
You can’t be available to your customers 24/7. And if you are, you’re running the risk of burnout! Setting expectations around when your team will be available to customers is important. Even if it’s as simple as hours of operation on your website, your customers will know when they can contact you or when they can expect a reply. If you don’t set expectations you could end up over-promising and under-delivering.
When working to resolve a customer concern, be explicit in your team’s next steps and the time it will take to resolve the issue. If you don’t have an estimated time, be honest. The word “soon” can be interpreted many ways.
World Class Example:
When I first started going to my hairdresser in Toronto, I knew I had found a small, family-owned business that genuinely valued their customers. When I got my first haircut, Mona (one of the only two stylists) told me that her and her brother, the other stylist, never used to take vacations. Eventually their long-term customers, with whom they’d developed great relationships over the years, insisted the sibling business owners took time off. Now the salon emails their clients with a heads-up a few weeks in advance of when a stylist will be away, or if the salon will be closed for a long weekend.
I love this proactive practice of ensuring their clients are taken care of, and setting the expectation so customers aren’t annoyed when they call the salon, only to get the answering machine.
Create personalized e-newsletters in Method using List Builder to remind customers of important dates or provide notice when you’ll be out of town.
Go the Extra Mile
When deciding between two competitors offering similar services at similar price points, it can often come down to simply who a customer wants to give their business to. So, what is a great way to differentiate yourself to your competitors? Wowing your customers.
World Class Example:
A family traveling to Bali brought specialized eggs and milk for their son because of his food allergies. When the family arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali, they realized the food had spoiled. The Ritz-Carlton’s manager and dining staff searched for the speciality items in town, but weren’t able to find them. However, the hotel’s executive chef recalled a store in Singapore that carried the products. The chef arranged for a family member in Singapore to purchase the products and fly them over to Bali. Now that is going above and beyond to ensure guests are taken care of!
Do you provide recurring services such as weekly lawn care? Confirm the service appointment with a reminder email, or call to your customers the day before you’re scheduled to arrive.
I hope a few of these ideas have inspired you to take a closer look at how your company serves your customers.
As always, I’d love to hear how your small business is rocking customer service. Leave a comment below or tweet me @MethodCRM!