In today’s world, customers demand more. Whichever business sector you look at, certain standards have been set by corporate giants that small businesses perhaps feel obliged to adhere to. In fast food chains, you can buy exactly the same burger in Newcastle as you can in London. In retail superstores, the look and feel of the hundreds of shops under the same brand name are identical. Branching out to the Internet, almost every modern software company out there has that funky scrolling page of features with a 30-day free trial resting conveniently at the bottom. For small businesses, this can be daunting because you have to be sure that your service matches up to these expectations. If it doesn’t, chances are you may receive a few complaints here and there.
Whether you’re a sole trader or a small limited company with only a couple of employees, it’s easy to become distracted in the daily running of a business. Managing sales, social media, expenses, employees and accounts all at the same time, in order to meet customer expectations, can be a daunting task and may lead to neglect of other areas of a business. However, one area which I believe should not suffer under any circumstances is customer service, and here’s why:
Customers are the lifeblood of your business.
At the end of the day, your customers are the ones who provide the money that pays your wages, your administration costs and your overheads. Without customers funding your operations, there’d be nothing to sell to them and your business would implode. Surely keeping your customers happy should be the most important task on your list?
One way to keep customers happy is to stick to your word – an easy way to do this is to under-promise and over-deliver. For example, promise a delivery within three working days but deliver the next day. The customer is pleasantly surprised at how fast the service was and will likely use you again. Deadlines are something else that shouldn’t be taken lightly and this holds especially true when it comes to accounting; HMRC can issue fines and penalties for documents that aren’t filed on time so keeping track of these is of utmost importance. Shameless plug, but us lot at REACT will make sure this doesn’t happen to you. And if you have no idea what these documents are then give us a call. The number is right there at the bottom of this page.
At REACT, we’re dedicated to keeping our clients happy and you should be too, because happy customers bring obvious benefits to your business. Not only will they be more inclined to buy from you again, but they may tell their friends and family about your services, too. Unhappy customers, on the other hand, are no less vocal about their opinions and if someone is unhappy, they won’t be afraid to pipe up about it. This is nothing to worry about if they contact your customer service team directly, as the problem can be rectified and the happy relationship between business and customer restored. However, one platform that can be a nightmare for businesses is social media. Without trying to be a scaremonger, one negative comment can spiral out of your control into a viral storm and the reputation of your business can be ruined with a single tweet. As a result, customers could be lost, meaning less money for you. A fantastic example of social media support done well, however, is local water company Northumbrian Water. They have a whole Twitter page dedicated to customer complaints or queries. In one case, a customer couldn’t contact the company by phone so posted on Twitter instead, and within half an hour a service van was outside their door. This painted a positive picture of Northumbrian Water, and they managed to turn around a complaint into a success story that people can see. Complaints are not a bad thing if dealt with correctly.
What’s the best way to deal with complaints, you ask? In short, taking a more personal approach goes a long way. No one wants to talk to a machine because it’s like talking to a brick wall, so make sure there’s a real person on the other end of the phone to talk to the customer. Additionally, telling someone their complaint will be taken on board and actually acted upon not only improves your business, but is arguably the most important thing to consider when dealing with a complaint. After all, everybody likes to be listened to.
Next week we will be talking to Doug Ackerman, a Communications Manager at CustomerSure. In the meantime, be sure to check out their blog here. It is full of information about keeping customers happy, from the experts themselves.
The Week in Review is written by Mitch, our apprentice. Stay tuned to hear more about his adventures here at REACT.