9 Tips to Help Your Small Business Stand Out In Customer Service (2023)

Whether customer service is your responsibility as the business owner or you have a team of ten, your small business has a duty to perform to a standard that your customers can appreciate.

Excellent customer service can make or break a small business, especially in our increasingly competitive global economy. When the consumer is one click away from doing business with anyone in the world, good customer service can really set your company apart.

One survey conducted found that 68% of customers claim they are willing to spend more with businesses where they have experienced a positive service interaction. On the other end of that spectrum, 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a business due to poor customer service.

So, what is it that will take your ordinary customer service to an entirely different level so it is easily recognizable by your customers? Keep these strategies in mind to stand out among your competition and grow your small business.

Why is Customer Service So Important?

Picture this: you board a taxi to one of your favorite restaurants in town. The taxi driver is kind and caring and seems to understand your preferred routes — he even offers a discount for a delay caused by a traffic jam.

The chances are good that the next time you go out, you’ll hire the services of the same driver. Right? You’d even be spurred to share the experience and recommend the cab service to your friends, meaning more business for the driver.

Now, a good customer service team is like this taxi driver. It helps retain existing customers and gain more value from them, leading to increased revenue. Even better, it generates positive word-of-mouth about your business, helping you acquire new customers at a lower cost of acquisition.

Other benefits of good customer service include:

  • It lowers customer churn rate
  • It increases the customer lifetime value
  • It improves brand awareness
  • It turns customers into brand advocates

What Are the Qualities of a Strong Customer Service Team?

While you need to have a representative with the right characteristics, you want to have a team that brings the best out of everyone. Here are the top qualities your team should exhibit:

Professionalism

Your service team will come across different types of customers — happy, satisfied, inquisitive, and frustrated. Dealing with happy or satisfied customers should be straightforward: the team only needs to thank the customer for choosing your brand. They should also affirm your willingness to help the customer, should they hit a snag using your service or product.

However, your team needs to demonstrate professionalism (and a lot of it) when dealing with frustrated customers. They should stay poised, confident, and level-headed in order to deal with such customers in a way that shows your business respects, cares about and values the customer.

People-first Attitude

Beyond professionalism, the teams need to maintain a customer-first attitude. The customer should remain not only first but in the center of the team’s operation. However, the team shouldn’t fall into the trap of viewing the customer as a sale.

Instead, they need to understand that the biggest factor in good service relates to basic humanity. As such, they should bear with every situation and strive to ensure the customer feels heard and valued when they voice a concern. And even before then, the customer needs to feel valued and appreciated — as an individual, not just a number — every time they make a purchase.

Language Skills

During the inception stage of your business, it’s possible your target audience is in one country. However, as you grow, things will change, and you’ll onboard customers from multiple countries.

In that case, your team should scale accordingly. Besides providing solutions in an educated and respectful manner, they should tailor each response to the customer’s language and be sensitive to culture and syntax styles.

Training to Handle Complaints

Lastly, the team should have the know-how to handle customer complaints with professionalism and understanding. No matter the customer’s complaint, your team should listen and understand, be apologetic, and be empathetic.

More than that, good customer service teams always follow up with the customer. They always find out whether the solution they recommended worked. What’s the experience like using your product or service? Why did the customer dislike the service offered? Was their concern resolved appropriately?

These are the most important characteristics for your support agents to have. However, instilling autonomy and empowering your cs agents to wow customers is key and essential for getting these kinds of characteristics to really come forward and shine.

Following up shows that you care and value the customer.

9 Tips for Good Customer Service

1. Build Rapport with Your Customers.

Your client base is likely smaller than a Fortune 500 company where customers are just a number. As a small business owner, you have a real opportunity to personalize the customer experience. Regularly reaching out to your customers, getting to know them by name, and remembering faces will make all interactions with your business more memorable and will make your customers feel valued.

2. Be Present on Every Level.

Customer service is all about being present, from the service counter to social outlets to emails. Taking hours or days to respond to your customers via phone, email, or social media will no doubt leave them feeling neglected and eventually unhappy with your services. Before you let it get that far, have an action plan in place for every avenue of communication and make sure your team is on the same page.

3. Treat Every Customer with the Same Level of Service.

From the customer who checks in with you once a year to the one that you’re in contact with daily, make sure each one gets the same level of service. Repeat customers, referrals, and former customers can be a huge asset for your business, so you don’t want to roll the dice with inconsistent service experiences.

Having a solid process in place through the entire customer lifecycle – from marketing and sales to onboarding and customer retention – can ensure that everyone receives the same awesome level of service.

4. Pay Close Attention to Customer Feedback.

Make sure your customers have a way to share their opinions about your business. Whether it’s a customer survey or an open invitation to share reviews on websites like Yelp or Facebook, when customers feel like you are listening to what they have to say, they’re more comfortable investing in your product.

5. Hire Employees with Excellent People Skills.

From the cashier to the service agent answering the phones, hiring the right team, individuals with good people skills is a non-negotiable for your small business customer service success. Often customer service representatives serve as the face of your business, so you need to ensure that it’s a face you’re willing to show.

6. Learn to be a Pro at Problem-Solving.

The age-old mantra “the customer is always right” still holds true today. It doesn’t matter who’s right or who’s wrong. At the end of the day, reaching a solution for your customer is going to make a positive impact on your bottom line. In a best-case scenario, you can increase customer loyalty and generate referrals. Worst case scenario, you can quell negative word-of-mouth (in person and online) about your brand. Put your pride aside when dealing with difficult customers. No one wants to be told that they’re wrong, especially by a business they’re investing their time and money into – they want to reach a solution.

7. Don’t Make False Promises or Guarantees.

Extravagant promotions and promises will no doubt entice customers. But, nothing is more frustrating for current or potential customers than a click-bait offer or a promotion with a multitude of stipulations. Be honest and upfront about your promises, and you’ll build a happier, more committed customer base.

8. Understand the Value of Customer Retention.

Marketing is expensive and requires time and effort to do well. While it’s important to grow your small business by adding customers, make sure to keep in mind the value of retention. It’s more expensive to acquire new customers compared to retaining existing ones. In many cases, it’s more economically wise to focus on customers who have already interacted with your business. Retention is only possible if you’re demonstrating appreciation for and value to your customers at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

9. Treat Your Employees the Way You Expect Them to Treat Your Customers.

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked secrets of stellar customer service. Small business owners should treat employees with the same respect, transparency, and appreciation that they would a valued customer. The happier your employees are with their position, the more dedicated they’ll be to your small business success.

Customer Service Tools

To put the above tips into action, you have to embrace tools and apps to improve customer service. Some of the most important tools include:

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools help serve up more personalized content to would-be consumers at the most opportune time in the sales funnel. It can help you deliver to your customers and prospects the kinds of resources they need so they can learn, be better at their jobs, and find solutions to their problems.

Live Chat Tools

In the era of instant gratification, customers no longer want to wait for ages to speak to a representative. They want immediate answers to their questions and will hang up (or leave your website) if that’s not afforded.

Live chat tools can increase the speed of customer interactions. They give you an option to respond to customer queries instantly or offer assistance as soon as they show interest.

Customer Relationship Management Tools

CRM tools enable you to cultivate and manage customer relationships. They help you gather data on customers’ preferences, interests, purchase history, and more. Analyzing the data unearths insights that help you tailor your offering to the client’s needs.

Live Visual Support Tools

By providing a live visual assistance tool to your support team members, you offer them the possibility to give visual help to solve technical issues that need immediate assistance. Thanks to several collaboration functionalities, your support team would be able to provide a much more personalized help to solve a problem that needs immediate assistance and technical skills. Being able to see the problem, instead of having to understand the issue from an oral description leads to a much quicker problem resolution process. Moreover, by adding the video in your interaction with your customer, you bring much more empathy to the conversation, leaving the customer with a much better impression.

It’s a competitive world out there for small businesses, and it’s often hard to cut through the noise. Customer service is your chance to differentiate your product and exceed expectations to build a loyal customer base and make your business memorable.

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Author: Sen. Emmett Berge

Last Updated: 01/29/2023

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