Digest this – 81% of clients would work with a business again if the customer service was excellent.
But, on the flip side, 95% of angry customers won’t openly complain about your bad service.
And for those who will, they will end up telling up to 15 people about the bad experience they had.
You cannot ignore the humongous impact good customer service and support has on a business – especially a small one that is seeking to spread its wings and grow.
Customer Retention is Where Business Success Lies
Sustainability in business is key to prolonged operation and profitability.
And that means you need to master the art of customer retention – repeat customers cost much less than attracting new ones all the time.
According to statistics, just improving customer retention by 5% can boost profits by up to 125%.
Thankfully, this is something you can do easily as long as your customer support is in check, but that can be a bit tricky.
So Where’s the Problem?
There seem to be some conflicting insights that make it difficult for companies to pinpoint exactly how excellent customer support/service is vital in their small business.
Here a good example: Despite some companies being in USA Today’s list of America’s most hated companies, they still continue to make huge profits off their customer base.
Judging by that statistic alone, the whole idea of investing in customer support/service isn’t worth a second thought, right?
Well, not really.
There are instances where profitability is determined by other key factors for some of these businesses – like having no real competition in the area – as if most often with ISP and other service providers.
Small businesses will rarely be the only provider of goods and services in the area, and even if that would be the case, you don’t want a bad reputation shooing away potential customers.
Attention to the customer and how you handle your finances in the process is key to being one of those companies everyone loves and respects.
You Need to Strike a Financial Balance
Outstanding customer support and business success is not a direct and guaranteed correlation.
Some companies like this Midwestern US beverage distribution company have ended up recording losses attributed to heavy investment in customer support and service.
The bottom line?
You need to invest without stretching the budget. As a matter of fact, some of the steps you can take as a small business to improve customer support and service are free.
Better still, you can learn them here.
Steps to Offer Outstanding Customer Support as a Small Business
Your customers are what keeps your business going, so make sure they are treated well at all times. Here’s how:
1. Adopt a Problem-solving Mindset
At the end of the day, what drives a consumer to ask for support is an issue they encountered while interacting with your business or product – maybe they can’t find some information, or they want consultations, or they found a problem they can’t solve on their own.
Customers want the issue to be addressed quickly and solved efficiently.
As a small business, you probably won’t have a huge dedicated support team, but a few select members who will handle customer inquiries.
Finding good candidates to fill this role isn’t hard when you know what to look for – a problem-solving mindset.
Because that’s what you do in customer support.
Look for employees who are used to handling things on their own – like solving common computer issues, fixing office tech and being proactive with suggestions on how to do things more efficiently.
Let’s say your customer lost its data which affected your business relationship, but you cannot directly help them solve that issue – with a problem-solving mindset, an employee is able to point them in the right direction and provide information on those who can. The customer will appreciate the proactive attitude.
Since some consumers will also be emotionally upset, your staff should also know how to effectively calm them down and avoid a downward spiral.
2. Build a Rapport With Your Consumers
Since you are a small business with probably fewer clients than a Fortune 500 company, it is imperative that you take time and interact more closely with your clients.
You can get to know them by name, remember them by their faces, and regularly reach out to them.
Your goal is to create a more personalized experience with your clients that will have them coming back for more.
3. Every Customer Should Get the Same Level of Service
It doesn’t matter if the client in question is a regular or a one-timer, every client should get the same service treatment.
The reason for this is that referrals, repeat customers, and former customers can be huge assets for a business that seeks to expand and solidify its base.
You cannot afford to ignore or mistreat any of them.
The key here is to create a solid process and proactively engage consumers through the entire customer lifecycle. This spans the onboarding, marketing, and sales, to retention phases.
4. Pay Your Staff Well and Keep Them Motivated
If you do not pay your customer support team well, train them, and keep them motivated, then effective customer support may be a tall order for your small business.
You’ll be having people at one end of the line interacting with consumers and trying to understand and offer services to them.
Only a positive attitude will help you ace this.
If you are harsh to your own customer support team, then they will be harsh to your clients on the other end of the line.
Remember that the mood you set up as management is what will trickle down the company and affect the team’s morale.
5. Do Not Struggle to Win Arguments
The goal of customer service and support is not to prove why the consumer is wrong and you are right.
In most cases, this is a recipe for losing a customer.
Provide them with the benefit of the doubt. Explain to them that you understand their predicaments and that the matter will be handled amicably.
Putting them in a situation where they have to argue with you will make you look rude, arrogant, and disrespectful.
6. Get to Know What Consumers Think About the Company
You can construct a “How’re we doing” card and use that to let your customers give their opinion of the business so far.
This can be issued at the entry or exit areas of the business premises or in a statement.
This card should be simple and short to fill. More importantly, it should contain questions pointing at what they like about the business, what they dislike, what they would change, and how their last experience was.
And as a sign of courtesy, make sure you acknowledge receipt for clients who decide to mail in their responses.
7. Use the Feedback You Receive
It will be of no use to invest all the time and money to gather consumer feedback that you will make no use of.
Worse still, it will be considered a rude gesture by your client who equally invested his/her time to draft the feedback.
Thus, you should take time to carefully review feedback, identify the areas of improvement, and make the appropriate changes.
This will make your clients feel part and parcel of the company and will be more enthusiastic to engage with you next time.
To Wrap It Up
A loyal customer will be worth ten times more than the first purchase they ever made.
And to get such a loyal customer, customer support will be key in your small business or side hustle.