Shopping used to be a lot of fun. You could wander into a store, relax, stroll the aisles, try on items, meet your friends, sip your coffee, and walk out with your purchases.
Things have changed a lot since the internet came along. But one thing still matters and is still crucial for repeat business. That thing is great customer service.
Customer service, and the social etiquette that it includes, is absolutely necessary for businesses to succeed in this world. The lack of good customer service can crush revenue, decrease sales, and lead the company into bankruptcy.
People want more than just being able to buy something real cheap and save money. Customers want to know that they will be treated well in other ways, such as returns, replacements, or future experiences.
If you run a small business, you probably already know that you need to have good customer service on a regular basis, that you have to go out of your way, even bend over backwards, to do right by the customer. There is a powerful need for customers to want to be treated well, to the point where they want the experience of like they are the most important client, or only client.
Ideas for Great Customer Service
- Respond and reply. Have you ever placed an order and then heard nothing, and then couldn’t find any way to contact customer service? Your customers will run away fast if they can’t get an update on their order or have someone respond to them.
- Focus on the customer’s needs. Customers want different things so you have to remember that. Some may need to know that they made good choice, some may want more information about possible returns, and some may want to sign up for something.
- Think of future sales. The customer rightfully decides what they want to spend their money on, and businesses need to remember this every day. Can a company get future sales from the customer they have right now? The service often is a determining factor in answering that question.
- Great products. Is the customer getting a good deal for the price they are paying, or is the product over-hyped and over-priced? People often buy the brand but they also want an excellent product that has been advertised as such.
- Accurate orders. Recently I ordered one item online. Then there was a delivery delay so I waited. At last the package came and inside was some other product that was nothing like what I had ordered. I think that someone just grabbed anything similar in price and put it in the shipment just to show that the order was fulfilled and the product delivered. Suffice it to say, I did not like that experience at ll.
- Delivery. In this day and age of GPS technology, it should not be some mystery as to when a package will get delivered, if it was delivered, or what location it found itself after delivery. Yes, delays happen, especially when people are over-promised lightning fast delivery times. People just don’t want their packages stolen so they want to know when they can receive it.
- Real people. Are bots doing your customer service for your company because they are cheap? It’s so disappointing to never be able to get a real human. But more employees are expensive and I get that. At the very least, let people submit questions into a virtual line and let them know they will be listened to and receive a reply.
- Packaging. The environment matters a lot and a lot of customers don’t want big boxes for tiny orders. We can do better as a world with smaller packaging.
- Rewards. Beyond low prices, people like rewards programs and everything that comes with them. Make sure customers can receive great customer service for these extra additions for loyalty.
- Reviews. Do you really want customers to do public reviews, or could you offer private reviews on their experiences? I don’t like giving public reviews myself because I tend to be honest and sometimes honesty is not the best policy.
- Empowerment. Are you as a business helping your customers succeed in their enterprise? And are you as a customer supporting the company where you are shopping? I believe that online stores want satisfied customers and that repeat customers want businesses that care about their needs.
Customer Service and Small Online Businesses
If you are starting a side business and want it to succeed, you need to provide great customer service to your clients.
How do you do this?
- Engage on a regular business
- Communicate your timelines
- Be upfront about fees
- Communicate any added expenses that occur
- Keep the client informed
- Be responsive and answer questions
- Do great work
- Be polite but firm
- Keep the tone professional and boundaries clear
- Ask for referrals if the are satisfied with your work
These are just a few ways that great customer service matters, both to the customer and to the business. Remember your favorite experiences from your past and how that affected you positively or negatively.
Has your once-favorite company gone astray from back when they cared about customer service more than any other business? I can think of an example right now where I no longer want to shop somewhere because they don’t seem to care about me as a customer like they used to.
Strive for success by having great customer service all the time. It should help spread good word of mouth and lead to increased sales in the long run.