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7 Best Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses

Category: B2B News
What are some good customer service tips for small businesses?

Good customer service tips for small businesses that you should consider are:

  1. Make your business easily reachable
  2. Respond to customers on time
  3. Reinforce team collaboration
  4. Build good rapport with customers
  5. Try using a customer service software
  6. Measure your customer service efforts
  7. Train customer service agents continually

Good customer service is the icing on the cake for your clients. It is what keeps your customers coming back for what you have to offer. In fact, according to the 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report, more than half (58%) of consumers say that customer service is crucial to brand loyalty. That’s why it doesn’t hurt to look for customer service tips every now and then.

This is especially true for those who own small businesses. After all, how can you be more hands-on in accommodating your customers’ concerns without compromising your operations?

To help you out, we will be detailing some of the tricks of the trade for small businesses. From setting up your service channels and optimizing collaborative customer service efforts to using customer support software and analyzing your performance, we will discuss everything you need to know to achieve customer service success.

Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses

Customer care can make or break a business. When you own a startup or small company, the stakes are even higher. Every interaction with your customers can spell the difference between success and failure. By overlooking just one inquiry or failing to meet the demands of a customer, you can earn yourself a reputation for giving bad service and lose leads along the way.

In a study by Accenture, they found out that poor customer experience costs companies $1.6 trillion annually. This is due to the number of customers switching to competitors after having a bad experience in dealing with service reps.

So, as a small business, you will have to go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service. Not only will you have to be ready to respond to your customers; you also need to follow a few extra steps to maintain their loyalty to your brand.

A study by Shopify reveals that there are many ways through which you can do this. For instance, 85% of consumers say that respecting their privacy can drive brand loyalty. You can also try to acknowledge their loyalty and reward them with perks such as discounts and freebies. Furthermore, providing many communication options for customer service is also a major factor in securing customers.

How to Keep Your Customers for Life

The major factors that influence brand loyalty

Being trustworthy and respecting their privacy

%

Being there when you are needed

%

Acknowledging their loyalty

%

Rewarding their loyalty

%

Providing optimal communication channels

%

Updating products and services often

%

Engaging with clients regarding product development

%

Being generally trusted by their friends and family members

%

Source: Shopify

Designed by

Of course, the list doesn’t stop there. So, to show you how else you can take your customer service efforts to a whole new level, we have compiled some customer service tips for small businesses. Hopefully, with this, you get a better idea on how to set up an omnichannel approach to customer service, what modern consumers expect from brands, as well as how you can leverage technology to your advantage.

1. Make Your Business Easily Reachable to Customers

Let’s start from the beginning of the customer service process—contact. Many people believe that this phase starts once a company receives a message from the customer. However, the truth is it starts from the moment they start looking up how to contact you. So it is pertinent that you set up customer service channels that are most preferable and convenient for your clients.

As you’ll see on the chart provided, while a good chunk of consumers still prefer using the phone for customer service (39%), many now prefer other channels like email (20%), live chat (16%), and online self-service (12%). Some would rather take to social media in case of product and service issues. This means that by having only an email address and a phone number, you are only reachable to roughly 60% of your customers.

With that said, you should roll out an omnichannel approach that covers everything from phone calls to social media interactions. By doing so, you can close the gap in the customer service experience and make it more personalized and convenient for your customers. As a plus, this approach streamlines your processes and allows you to resolve customer concerns faster.

Once service requests and tickets start piling up, you can even consider utilizing customer service platforms that offer fully integrated customer communications options. For instance, Freshdesk provides users with a unified inbox where businesses can consolidate tickets from multiple channels.

Customer Service Channel Preferences of Consumers

Phone (39%) Email (20%) Live Chat (16%) Online Self-Service (12%) Social Media (5%) Undecided (5%) SMS (3%)

Source: 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report

Designed by

2. Respond to Customers Timely and Be Present on Every Level

Customers want you to value their time. As you’ll see on the provided chart, they don’t want to sit around waiting for a response when they have product or service issues. In fact, a majority of customers expect brands to respond within 10 minutes upon contact.

This is where having a real-time customer service strategy comes in handy.

As a small business, you can ensure speed and consistency across service channels by keeping your lines open. Moreover, it is important to formulate a clearcut schedule as to when you or your other staff members should be checking emails and social media accounts for any customer service messages.

Lastly, when you respond, be sure to do the following:

  1. Provide a friendly greeting. There’s nothing like a friendly voice to defuse negative situations.
  2. Listen carefully to complaints and concerns. Being more attentive can help you genuinely understand your customers.
  3. Gather as much information as you can. This data will help provide more personalized interactions in the future.
  4. Provide a solution. In case you can’t at the moment, give a timeframe for resolution. This will let them know exactly when to expect a response from you.

Furthermore, to improve response times, you can utilize platforms like Freshdesk that will provide smart notifications on incoming customer service requests.

The Most Frustrating Aspects of Customer Service in 2018

Top factors that turn customers off

Waiting on hold

%

Repeating information to a different support rep

%

Slow response time

%

Not being able to resolve the issue online

%

Other

%

Source: HubSpot Research Consumer Customer Support Survey

Designed by

3. Practice Team Collaboration for Customer Service

Two heads are better than one. In the case of customer service, having more than one person work on a ticket can expedite resolution. As a result, you get happy customers and a more productive workday.

However, making sure that you and your staff members are working as one entity and providing consistent service can be difficult. This is especially because even if there’s only a few of you in your small business, miscommunication can still happen. For instance, a staff member might promise certain perks to a customer to make up for a product issue. The only problem is you didn’t approve of the action.

A quick fix to this would be encouraging your staff members to work together in addressing customer concerns. You can do this by having a separate chat room for discussions or even by telling staff to seek advice from whoever is in charge at that time. You can even let multiple staff members chime in on the customer conversation, given that the customer is notified first to avoid confusion.

There are also customer service tools like Freshdesk that you can use to set up team inboxes and linked tickets. Having these at your disposal will let you and your staff members can simultaneously handle inquiries and service requests in one convenient hub.

4. Build Good Rapport with Customers

Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to small business customer service. The simple act of remembering a customer’s name, keeping tabs on previous transactions, and protecting their data can help you boost engagement and eventually improve sales. Providing good digital experiences can also affect customer satisfaction.

Just be sure to take notes and build a customer data repository. This way, you can just keep a file on your customers and pull them out whenever you need to interact with them. This is not only a great way of providing personalized experiences; it also allows any of your staff members to accommodate customers even when they weren’t the ones who initially interacted with them.

Another way to personalize interactions is by following up and checking on customers. Ask them if they’re still experiencing a problem with your products and services, and set response due dates for tickets you can’t accommodate yet. You can even just call them after they purchase to ask them how they find your product. This shows them that you genuinely care about them.

Most importantly, you should make it a habit to collect and study customer feedback. This way, not only will you make your clients feel more included in your business decisions; you can also determine how to improve your operations minus the guesswork.

How to Provide a Positive Customer Service Experience

The most important factors that consumers expect from your brand

88%

Promising not to share their personal information

79%

Providing Contextualized Interactions

70%

Being aware of previous sales interactions

59%

Providing cutting-edge digital experiences

Source: 2018 Salesforce State of the Connected Customer

Designed by

5. Consider Leveraging a Customer Service Software

Let’s face it: small businesses don’t often handle hundreds of customer service tickets daily. So, having a designated team of many for the task is not only unnecessary, but it can also drill a hole in your budget. This is why you should consider using SaaS for customer service.

These tools are designed to automate tedious tasks and ensure the efficiency of your customer service efforts. It can handle everything from consolidating tickets from different channels to documenting ticket resolutions for future references. Moreover, having one will allow a mere couple of customer service reps to manage a workload that will normally take a team of 10 to handle. That means you get to maintain low overhead costs without compromising the quality of your service.

If you haven’t invested in a customer service platform yet, a good option to check out would be Freshdesk. It supports multiple channels, organizes tickets, automates distribution, and promotes collaboration among customer service reps. In addition, the Freshdesk features are easy to learn and customize, allowing it to adapt to your existing software ecosystem.

To learn more about this platform, you can sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

The Freshdesk dashboard offers a clean interface that is easy to learn and use.

6. Take Time to Measure Your Customer Service Efforts

Understanding how far you’ve come is very important for small businesses. However, the thing about progress is that you don’t know it’s happening unless you pay attention to it. So, if you want to know how much your customer service efforts have improved, you need to take the time to measure it. By doing so, you know exactly where you stand and be able to pinpoint what aspects of your process you can improve and how you can do it.

You can do this by simply tracking your tickets and the time you spend working on each one on a spreadsheet. But, of course, if you want to speed up the process, you can always use AI-powered customer service platforms that come with reporting and analytics tools.

Some of the most important metrics you should be measuring are the following:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Score – this refers to the level of satisfaction of your consumers regarding your service. You can collect it directly from customers via surveys.
  2. Net Promoter Score – this measures the likelihood of recommendation from customers. Again, you can collect this directly from customers via surveys.
  3. First Response Time – this allows you to gauge the speed at which you are accommodating new requests. Of course, the faster the better. You can collect this by monitoring ticket response times.
  4. Resolution Rate – this is the number of issues that you are able to resolve versus the tickets you received. Knowing this is great for monitoring customer service productivity.
  5. Average Handle Time – this lets you check how fast you can deal with customer concerns. Tracking this can be useful for checking customer service efficiency.

You can learn more about these using our list of important KPIs and Metrics for customer support teams.

steps for better KPI

Here’s some steps to KPI creation you can consider.

7. Train Customer Service Agents Continually

Last but not least in our compilation of customer service tips, you should put an effort into training the staff members who are in charge of customer service. Whether your employees take turns in handling customer concerns alongside their other tasks or you have a dedicated team for this aspect of your operations, you should find ways to continually improve their customer service skills.

Most companies would consult industry experts, conduct workshops, or provide informal coaching to support the continuing education of their staff members. In addition, some would find online courses that their employees can enroll in.

The point here is to provide them and yourself with all the resources necessary for customer service improvement. This is also helpful when it comes to remaining up-to-date on industry best practices.

The Top Methods for Training Customer Service Professionals

Conduct live workshops by industry experts

%

Organize seminars by internal staff

%

Let agents shadow veteran team members

%

Launch online workshops

%

Provide informal coaching

%

Encourage independent, on-the-job learning

%

Others

%

Source: 2018 Aircall Customer Support Strategy Survey

Designed by

Bottom Line: Small Business Support Need Not Be Complicated

Small business support is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks that entrepreneurs have to do. It is what allows you to build a solid reputation that will make new customers trust you and existing customers remain loyal to your brand. However, the process need not be complicated.

As you have read from our compilation of customer service tips for small businesses, it all boils down to anticipating the needs of your clients and understanding their them as best as you can.

Just be sure to make contacting you as convenient as possible, and when they reach out to you, be sure to respond in a courteous and timely manner. By doing so, you can foster stronger relationships with customers that will help you yield better sales later on.

Moreover, no matter how successful you get, be sure to keep tracking your progress. This way, you can further fine-tune your processes, keep up with the changes in the industry, and find ways to continually improve the performance of your team.

Of course, while you can perform these manually, it can get difficult as your business grows. With that said, you can always opt to utilize software solutions for your operations. A good lead is this list of customer support platforms. This should help you learn more about the different types of solutions available on the market.

In case you are having trouble zeroing in on which one suits your company best, we highly recommend taking a closer look at Freshdesk. With its robust customer service functionalities and easy-to-use interface, you’ll find that accommodating customers and resolving their concerns is simpler than ever.

In case you are interested in this product, be sure to sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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