The Dos and Don’ts of Customer Service for Small Businesses
Whether you’re just starting out or your brand is well established, for any small business, the way you handle customer service will be absolutely integral in your overall success. With 96% of consumers worldwide saying customer service hugely impacts their brand loyalty, how can small businesses get this right?
Here, Sam from Prebeat looks at some dos and don’ts of customer service for small businesses.
Do know your worth
Whether you’re providing a service, experience or particular product, it’s important to know the value of your goods and skills and be able to price them accordingly. Any small business will know that being asked for a discount is part and parcel of the game – but that doesn’t mean you have to back down every time. Customers and clients are simply thinking about their output, not your margins and profitability – this is your responsibility. So by all means be willing to negotiate, but keep in mind the bottom line.
Don’t take customers for granted
When you’re met with customers who repeatedly ask for discounts or have unreasonable demands when it comes to getting out of contracts, it’s easy to overlook their value. Not every customer or client will be good for your business, and this will be a learning curve as you continue to develop and scale up if this is your intention – but don’t lose sight of the fact that every time someone buys into your product or service they’re helping you on your journey. With this in mind, try to resist being harsh or blunt in your approach, and keep a calm and friendly manner at all
Do listen to your customers
Let’s face it: without your customers, you don’t have a business. So if you’re serious about being successful, you’ll need to think like them and listen to what they have to say. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with how they feel about a product or service, you’re not the one buying it. So make sure they know you’re listening and, if possible, take action on feedback given. People love to be heard, and in terms of brand loyalty, they’ll appreciate the fact that their opinion counts.
Don’t take feedback personally
This is a tough one, especially if you’ve started your business from scratch and are still doing the lion’s share of the work – but you really need to try and not take feedback personally. If you’re crafting products with your own hands and people are rude rather than constructive about the work, this is understandably more difficult, but don’t allow yourself to become obsessed with negative feedback both online and in person. Chances are, there are far more people saying great things about your business – so try to have these comments be the ones you take to heart.
Do be willing to go the extra mile
This will be on a case by case basis of course, but being willing to go the extra mile for your customers will make all the difference when it comes to repeat business and brand loyalty. Whether this means making an out-of-hours delivery or squeezing in a job that falls outside of their retainer budget, customers and clients remember good service – which means they’ll keep coming back, and hopefully recommending their friends, too!
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
If you’re a self-confessed “yes man” and don’t like letting people down, it can be tempting to promise things you know you’re unlikely to be able to deliver on. This needs to stop. First and foremost, clients appreciate honesty. They’re people, just like you, and they just want to know where they stand. Better that you’re upfront with them at the beginning than promising something and letting them down later. This way, they’re much more likely to be understanding and hopefully your working relationship will remain unharmed.
Do accept that 9-5 doesn’t exist for you
Of course maintaining a work life balance is important, but as a small business owner, unfortunately the 9-5 schedule simply doesn’t exist. Sometimes, getting orders out on time will require you spending a little longer in the warehouse than you’d like – or, if you’re a creative, will mean working until the early hours until the bespoke stationery you’re working on is complete for a customer’s wedding. You know how your industry works better than anyone, so you’ll more than likely have been aware of this before you got into the game – so make your peace with it and find a schedule that works for your life and your business.
Don’t try to do everything alone
Even if you’re not at a point where you can afford to hire additional staff, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to pitch in. Whether this is helping out in your store on a weekend or giving you a hand with your social media, chances are you know someone who you can lean on when you need a little support. Having more than one person involved in the business will allow you to be more engaged with your customers and responsive to their needs – which is ultimately the thing that will help you drive sales.
The way you approach customer service will play a key role in the success of your business. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind and you’ll be well on your way to having happy customers and clients, whatever your industry!
Written by Sam from Prebeat – a sound and lighting retailer for the entertainment industry.