When it comes to building business, digital marketing and advertising seems to get more than its share of mind these days.  But, let’s not lose sight of the most important thing: making sure your customers and clients have an experience with your products and services that keeps them coming back for more.

The Benefits Of Excellence In Customer Service

Customer service needs to be done with excellence by every business, small and large.  Why?  This article excerpt refers to the decline of long term customer relationships and the advantage that brings to small and local businesses over larger competitors.

Long-term Relationships are Declining

“Businesses are in danger of becoming a commodity. The research found that, when compared to a similar study completed in 2012, the proportion of consumers that maintained a relationship with a provider for three years or more had dropped from 85 percent to 60 percent. For the Millennial cohort, that figure dropped to just 40 percent.

Longevity of relationships varied significantly between sectors, with banking, supermarkets, grocery, and clothing earning the most loyalty.

At the other end of the scale, phone and broadband providers, as well as online retailers showed the most churn amongst customers.

This is where a local small business can reap some significant benefits. Going above and beyond to not only deliver great customer service at the time of sale, but strategically putting systems in place that allow you to stay connected to, and serving, your customer base can go a long way toward building relationships that endure.”

via Key to Small Business Success: Great Customer Service

More on the experience of companies that stress excellence in customer service:

“In a sense, many companies assume their clients are guilty until proven innocent. It’s insane. But it’s a cheap way to conduct business. When you operate like this, you don’t have the high cost of customer satisfaction. Some customers are unreasonable. Most are reasonable, but they are demanding. They expect to get at least what they paid for, usually more.

But when you nail customer service, something magical happens. You end up with repeat business that you can’t control. This is part of the secret behind how Amazon, Apple, and other famous brands are able to get away with missteps in product releases.

Zappos, the famous shoe company, is probably better-known for it’s immaculate customer service experience than it is for its shoes. Take a hint. Overhaul your customer service department, and reap the rewards.”

via 3 Ways Customer Service Can Transform Your Small Business

The Role Of Leadership and The Employee

For some small and local businesses, ramping up the effort to train and develop employees can be daunting, but it is absolutely essential for business leadership to invest in excellent customer service through their employees.  Here’s more on this topic:

“According to the results, businesses understand the importance of customer service, with only 13% not doing anything extra to ensure great customer service. One reason for this could be that a company’s employees generally are the face and the voice of the organization. If customers have a good experience with your team, most likely they are going to have a good experience with your overall brand. But this exchange doesn’t necessarily come natural to most people, which is why the majority of poll respondents are dedicated to customer service, and 50% show their dedication by offering employee development programs and training to instill a strong culture of service.

Hiring for Cultural Fit

If you want to have a business that focuses on service, then you need to have employees who are service-minded individuals. Before you hire new team members, take time to break down your culture, understand what you’re looking for, and write down the attributes and soft skills you desire in your employees. Then once you have a plan developed, hire for your company’s cultural fit.

Customer service isn’t just a department in your business; it’s a mentality that is crucial to maintain a competitive edge in your market.”

via Results Are In: Businesses Use Employee Development and Training for Great Customer Service

Tools To The Rescue

A huge help in managing customer service comes from social media and other online tools.

For recruiting and hiring, one of our favorite tools is the DISC behavioral style assessment. This tool, administered online helps to determine if the individual is a good customer service fit (not everybody is!). It’s inexpensive and can save guesswork, time, and lots of money that would otherwise be wasted on hiring the wrong people for customer service – one of the most expensive mistakes a business can make. Contact us for more information about this tool.

Here’s info on an article that discusses additional tools

“Tools for Tracking and Responding to Customer Feedback

Tools for inviting and organizing customer feedback are vital in meeting customer expectations. Every in-store interaction provides an opportunity for individual feedback—but through social media, you’re able to listen to what an entire network of customers are saying about your business, respond appropriately and promptly, and show them that you care about customer concerns. A social media dashboard (like Buffer, HubSpot, or HootSuite) helps you manage multiple accounts at once and alerts you of any messages or mentions.

A customer relationship management solution (CRM) such as Salesforce or Nimble is another way to track customer feedback, both in-store and online.

Free Customer WiFi

Offering free on-site WiFi is another way to anticipate customer needs. In our connected society, consumers expect reliable, free internet access just about everywhere they go.”

via Customer Service Is the Top Reason Consumers Choose Small Business

Monitor Your Online Reputation

Building, Marketing, and Monitoring your online reputation is a critical skill for every business. The smartphone and people’s willingness to leave reviews anywhere and anytime can be a curse or a blessing. Either way, businesses today need to be proactive because Google displays your business rating and feedback in search results. Our 5 Star Reputation marketing system is the only one we know of that does all of these things. In fairness, there are other systems available but none as comprehensive.

For those with small budgets or few management resources, Google alerts can be setup for free to monitor any online mention of your company.  It’s important to respond online to both positive and negative feedback in a way that shows the public you’re engaged, professional, and caring.

Another article weighs in on the subject of Twitter as a customer service tool:

“The main goal of customer service is to provide a solution as quickly as possible and while many will prefer to pick up the phone, customers are quickly learning that with sometimes long wait times to get through to a company a Tweet can yield a much quicker response. Understandably executives can be nervous about negative comments being out in the world for everyone to see but the positive side to this is that it gives a brand the opportunity to respond and resolve the issue publicly, showing how helpful and responsive they are.

The key to projecting your brand in a positive light, despite any negative comments is the quality of your response and the response time. Use the @reply to offer your assistance, this will be a public response and there are no restrictions on who you can reply to. Yes, you are restricted to 140 characters but think carefully about your response, a good start is empathy and/or apology for the problem followed by either a question to gain more knowledge of the situation or a form of solution. If the problem is in any way sensitive or complex it is a good idea to use the @reply to ask them to send you a DM (direct message), which will not be public, and you will not be limited on the number of characters you can use. You can then either request their phone number or provide them with a direct phone number or email address so you can carry on the conversation outside of Twitter should you wish.”


Chat Systems

The cutting edge of customer service tools appears to be chat technology. Many businesses like the instant, personal touch, of chat technology. and it has the benefit of being a largely offline platform for resolving customer service issues. We’re keeping our eye on this development.

In summary, excellence in customer service is a fundamental expectation of all customers today. Good customer service starts with an intent to create the best experience for customers and this ultimately benefits the business. Local businesses may have an advantage over larger competitors when they hire and develop the right people for customer service, and utilize available online tools that make customer service a strategic advantage.

For Adwords Management, Marketing content creation, and social media consulting, visit us at www.b2bresourceteam.com