A strong product and well-developed brand are essential in the success of a small business, but exceptional customer service can give you an edge over the competition by fostering an emotional connection to your brand. Positive interactions can lead to repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals, while a poor interaction can turn a customer off for good — keep your customer service top-notch with these five tips.
Listening is key to better understand and meet your customers' needs. In every interaction, be present and patient (don't interrupt! to make sure the customer feels heard. A great way to do this is through active listening, which shows you understand the customer by using empathetic phrases like, "It sounds like…" or "I'm sorry, I can understand why that would be frustrating." Then at the end of your interaction, be sure to check that your customer is satisfied with the resolution.
Keep Your Promises
Great relationships are built on trust, and the same goes for your business. Start by setting clear expectations for your customers and yourself, and never making a promise or guarantee you can't deliver on. This includes sticking to set timelines, whether it's for shipping, promotions or even a regular communication schedule. Customers won't appreciate being left hanging, but they will appreciate your honesty, so be transparent if an issue arises. With every promise you make, remember that keeping it is the way to keep customers coming back.
Be Clear and Consistent
Whether it's on your website, social media or newsletters, clear and consistent communication is key to becoming a brand that customers can depend on. If you haven't already, develop your tone of voice and use it in every communication touchpoint. For any offers or promotions, get to the point quickly to capture attention and frame the message around the customer's benefit where possible: "Save BIG on our back-to-school clear-out!" Lastly, set and stick to a schedule for regular posts and newsletters so customers know when they can expect to hear from you.
Respond to Feedback
No one likes to hear negative feedback, but as your business grows, you may find yourself the target of an unflattering review. Don't worry! Take a deep breath and respond promptly. Remain polite and professional but don't get defensive. If the review is on a public forum, respond to show that you acknowledge the feedback, then you can offer to take the issue offline to come to a resolution. Turn this into an opportunity for positive growth. You can't please everyone all the time, but if you begin to notice consistent patterns in your feedback, see what can be done to remedy the issue.
Set Up Your Team for Success
"Take care of your associates, and they'll take care of your customers." These are the words J. Willard Marriott, the founder of the Marriott hotel empire, lived by, meaning that if the employees were happy, they would make the customers happy. If you have a team handling your customer service, make sure to motivate them with the tools and training they need to do their job and reward them for excellence. After all, the notable service they provide can mean more business for you.
Every interaction you have with customers is a chance to develop their connection with your brand, so put these tips into play and give your customers a reason to keep coming back!