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A Customer Service Guide for Small Business

GoCardless
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Last editedAug 20213 min read

Whether you’re a sole trader or lead a small team, you’ll need to find ways to elevate your customer service strategy. Strong relationships with clients and customers are an essential component of doing business, both in B2B and B2C industries. Here are a few of our top small business tips to give your customer service a boost.

The importance of customer service for small business

If you provide excellent products, does customer service still matter? The truth is, no matter how good your product offering is you’ll lose sales with poor customer service. From responding to emails in a timely manner to listening to feedback, it’s the little things that make first-time buyers transition into loyal customers. The importance of customer service doesn’t just relate to customer retention, but also to the free word-of-mouth advertising that these loyal customers provide. 

Customer service – small business tips

Communication, attention to detail, and availability are all a few of the elements of strong customer service. Here are our top tips for small businesses.

Tip 1: Get to know your product, inside and out.

Small businesses often fulfil a specific niche or focus on providing a unique service. Whatever your industry, make sure that you and your employees know all the ins and outs of your offerings. You can’t confidently handle customer questions about what you’re selling unless you hold in-depth knowledge. Take the time to prepare a FAQ document for front-facing staff to refer to, and make sure your team has hands-on experience with products you’re promoting.

Tip 2: Be available and responsive to customer needs.

Large companies have the money to pay for 24-7 call centres and dedicated customer service teams. As a small business, you don’t want to fall behind. Responsiveness is crucial when dealing with clients and customers. If a potential or existing customer reaches out for assistance, it’s important that you respond quickly even if it’s just to say that the message has been received. At heart, a great customer service strategy is about simply being present. Whether it’s via social media, email, or in person, make sure those touchpoints are always monitored.

Tip 3: Provide a more personalised experience.

One area where small businesses have the upper hand is in their ability to provide a custom, personalised customer service experience. You have a smaller client base than a mega-corporation, which means that you have wider opportunities to get to know your customers on a deeper level. Whether interacting in person or online, learn their names, likes, and dislikes. Excellent customer service examples include the companies that can provide the same level of service to occasional and everyday clients.

Tip 4: Make regular training a part of your customer service strategy.

Even the best-planned strategy will fall apart if all your team members aren’t on the same page. To get started, be sure to hire staff with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This is non-negotiable for those who will be placed in front-facing roles. With a smaller business size, it’s important for all your employees to feel valued and inspired. They’ll pass on that enthusiasm to the customers. Set up regular team building and training sessions to work on company communication. It’s worth the cost, as you’ll not only reduce employee turnover but also boost customer retention.

Tip 5: Ask for – and use – customer feedback.

You might think that your customer service strategy is top-notch, but you can’t really know how you’re performing until you ask the customers. Use feedback forms and customer surveys to receive fresh insights about the customer’s experience. It’s also worth monitoring reviews on social media and sites like TripAdvisor, Google Business, and Yelp. Don’t just read and run – respond to any negative points and try to use this feedback as a jumping-off point for better customer service next time.

The bottom line

A smile and hello go a long way when it comes to dealing with clients and customers, but most excellent customer service examples go beyond a friendly face. They include small businesses that go above and beyond what’s expected to provide service with a personal touch. This could include a bakery that remembers your birthday and treats you to a free cupcake, or a dentist that accommodates your needle phobia before you even ask. It takes time to build these relationships; but providing stronger customer service gives even the smallest business a competitive advantage that’s hard to beat.

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