Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Guest Post: 6 Strategies for Boosting Customer Service at Your Small Business

When it comes to significantly improving profits at an established small business, your options are limited. Short of an all-out social media marketing blitz, you only have a handful of choices: Offer a product or service that no other company can provide, which is tough to do in today's super-competitive marketplace, or give extreme discounts in the hopes that they can ignite business. Another option - and one that's often overlooked - is simply to improve your level of customer service. Beef up your profits more than you might expect by reading these helpful tips.

1. Focus More on Training
How often do you conduct training modules or seminars at your small business? If you're like most, probably not very often. Whether you have a highly tenured staff or a bunch of newbies, it's never a bad idea to offer training and support. Be sure to make these sessions fun, exciting, and engaging and your results can be quite significant. And don't just give your employees a packet of materials to read. Try unconventional training methods like role-playing to add a little pizzazz to your sessions.

2. Get Feedback From Your Clients
If one of your reps does a poor job of handling a customer, you may lose that customer for life. To avoid this, make a comment card available, or a sign pointing to your Facebook fan page or Twitter handle, and get some feedback from your patrons. You could even ask for your customers' email addresses and send out surveys via MailChimp, a contact management and email tracking website. Your customers are a goldmine of information - be sure you're getting the most out of them.

3. Conduct a Customer Service Meeting
So you've got your training modules taken care of, but have you ever had a staff meeting devoted strictly to customer service? If you decide to do so, make sure you leave everything else out - sales goals, contest results, and staffing changes - and focus strictly on improving customer service.  Ask your employees for five ideas and make it more of a roundtable discussion than a traditional meeting and you're sure to get some good results.

4. Genuinely Greet Your Customers
If you don't require your team to greet all customers entering your business, start doing that now. Just make sure they're genuine. Ask yourself what's worse, not being greeted at all when entering a business or hearing a bunch of half-hearted hellos from a staff that sounds like they just don't care?

5. Inquire About Ancillary Customer Needs
Does your business sell personal computers? If so, make it a requirement that your staff ask about computer mouses, mousepads, keyboards, and software whenever a purchase is made. If you sell digital cameras, then a memory card and carrying case should be added on to the purchase whenever possible. It's these little extras that can ensure a customer is completely taken care of (they may simply forget they need something until you remind them) and it's also a great strategy for increasing sales.

6. Walk the Walk Yourself
If you come up with a grand and aggressive customer service initiative, make sure you participate in its execution. Greet all customers wholeheartedly and ask about other products after you complete a sale. If you're going to make wholesale changes, it's important that you set the example for everyone.

While you may think you have the automatic buy-in of your managers when it comes to customer service, that may not necessarily be the case. Observe them in action and ask your staff members for occasional feedback on a manager, just be tactful in your approach. Customer service is an important way for a business to improve its bottom line and overall health, so start strengthening yours today.

What ways can you think of to improve customer service?

About the Author:  Ron Martin runs a small business from home in California and writes about topics including social media marketing, analytics, customer service, and finance.

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