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Customer Service Still Matters in your Small Business
By Heather Wied, Pubsoft
When you hear the term “customer service” do you laugh sadly to yourself because most of your experiences have been harrowing? Have you experienced the emotional and brain trauma of unhelpful encounter after unhelpful encounter, only to end up in an even worse position than you were before?
If we’re being perfectly honest, “customer service” as a term shouldn’t even exist. From a semantic standpoint, isn’t that the point of your entire existence as a business? To make money by serving your customers. If anything, it should be called “problem resolution” or “the let us fix it because we probably messed up” line because the only time a customer calls “customer service” is when something has gone awry and they need your help. So why is there such a disparity in customer service in 2016? Some companies do it really well, while others are still faltering.
Not only does customer service still matter, but it should matter more in a digital age where anyone can blast you on social media and review sites in a matter of minutes. Customers these days simply need to open up the magical device they carry in their pockets, you know, the one that puts the Internet at their fingertips and lets them log into their Yelp, Google, Facebook, or Twitter account and publicly shame you for your poor business practices. And woe to those businesses who do not think that people are paying attention. After a few recent experiences with good and bad customer service, this topic was something we wanted to talk about to remind small businesses of the importance of good customer service, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you better serve your customers:
1. Make it easy to resolve a problem.
Is your contact information listed in an accessible place? Do you have open channels of communication where people can communicate the way that they want to communicate? Younger customers tend to want to communicate with text, chat, and email while older customers still prefer the phone. So while having a phone and/or toll free number is still a reliable option for some customers, others want to have other options for support and communication as well.
2. Respond in a timely manner.
Don’t leave your customers hanging if they need your help or support. Get back in touch with them. There are plenty of online services that help you with tracking customer support requests. Software services like Zendesk and Freshdesk help you track support tickets, and Salesforce Desk even integrates with your Salesforce CRM if you have it.
Recently we received a very animated voicemail on our customer support line. The customer was frustrated however, she was frustrated for a product that wasn’t even ours. We still called her back, and here’s why: 1) If she didn’t get a call back from us, her problem would really never get solved, 2) If she had mistaken us for another company, other people could just as easily mistake us too, and 3) People just want to be heard, and when I say heard, I mean really listened to. For this woman, just knowing that her frustrations were being heard and someone cared, even if it wasn’t coming from the right company.
3. Give your employees the autonomy to do the right thing.
Theoretically, customer service could be eliminated if all employees are trained correctly and given the autonomy to resolve problems the way they see fit. That way no matter where a customer comes in for help or support the current point of contact could solve the problem. Sure it doesn’t work in all business structures, but it’s definitely worth examining in your company culture. The ability for all employees to make judgement calls they can feel comfortable and confident about in service of the customer.
4. There is ALWAYS something you can do.
This is probably the most important tip of them all. Don’t tell your customers that there is “nothing” you can do. Give your customers some credit, rarely, there is “nothing” you can do. Typically, there is always something you can do, even if it involves a compromise or getting creative to solve your customers root problem which is mainly that they want to feel appreciated in some way for being your customer even when things go wrong.
You should be striving to have customers talk about you in delight at every touchpoint, even when things go wrong, because inevitably they do and will, and as a business, you should know how to make it right to make your customers happy.
Heather Wied is the Marketing Director for Pubsoft. Follow @Pubsoft on Twitter.
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