For small businesses, success is rarely guaranteed. Without the financial backing that big corporations have, it can be challenging to compete and make a name for yourself.
However, you can put your business in the best position for success by optimizing the experience of your biggest stakeholders: your customers. Your quality of customer service—the assistance your company provides customers before, during, and after a sale—is essential to build trust with prospective and existing customers and keep them coming back.
In this short guide, we’ll look at four customer service essentials to incorporate across your business:
- Be transparent about your services and policies.
- Interact with customers online.
- Optimize your website for customers on the go.
- Show your gratitude with a loyalty program.
Ultimately, whether you’re running a thrift store, restaurant, or dog daycare, as a small business owner, it’s up to you to establish a business culture that makes everyone feel welcomed, comfortable, and satisfied. Following these customer service best practices will help bring in more revenue and build favorable relationships within your community. Let’s dive in.
1. Be transparent about your services and policies.
Just as transparency can translate to successful leadership, it’s also crucial in creating a positive experience for your customers. While it’s important to be transparent across your business, we recommend focusing on two core customer-facing areas:
- Services. On your website (and at your storefront), list your services and products, what they include, and how much they cost. Even if service prices vary according to customer need and project size, consider posting a general price range.
- Policies. Detail when to show up, how to pay, and what happens if a customer misses an appointment.
Being clear about your policies and services helps customers know the range of products or services they can take advantage of and sets expectations up front, helping you avoid upset and confusion and address your customers’ concerns.
2. Interact with customers online.
Today, with so many people online, many of your most impactful customer service interactions will take place on the internet. Whether through email, social media, or a website, many customers will prefer to engage with your business online.
Thus, take proactive steps to meet your customers’ wide range of needs and inquiries in their preferred digital settings. Make a plan to engage with customers on the following digital channels:
- Your website. Your site will be the first place they go to engage with your business. But even the best-designed and comprehensive website won’t answer all of your customers’ questions. Consider including a “Contact Us” page, a messaging system in your customer portal, or a pop-up that allows users to chat with a customer service representative.
- Social media. Just as celebrities use social media to create a deeper sense of connection with their fans, your business should use it to engage with your customers and potential customers. No matter the platforms you’re using, ask and reply to questions, post photos and videos, and share regular, informative updates that keep your customers in the loop.
- Review sites. Whether you like it or not, your customers are going to post their reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. For top-level customer service, show that you’re listening by responding with gratitude to positive reviews and addressing critical ones without getting defensive.
- Email. Finally, leverage your customer database to send targeted emails with product recommendations, news, and unique discount codes. Additionally, keep an eye out for customer emails and respond to questions and concerns as quickly and professionally as possible.
You can streamline your responses with software that allows you to direct and track your marketing, sales, and feedback communications to specific customer segments and individuals from a single hub.
3. Optimize your website for customers on the go.
As mentioned above, for many customers, your website will be the first place they go to learn about your business.
Not only are customers going to your website for a wide range of reasons—to schedule appointments, make purchases, ask questions, learn industry tips and recommendations, state their concerns, and find your business’s location and hours of operation—but they’re doing it all on the go from a phone or tablet.
Thus, to keep customers happy and invested in your business, you must optimize your site to make it easy for these users to actually use it. We recommend including the following features:
- Adaptable screen size. Customers shouldn’t have to squint or zoom in to view your site from their phones. Instead, your site (including text and images) should automatically scale to any device’s screen size.
- Sticky, thumb-friendly menu. Use a drop-down menu with the most important links, such as your blog roll, FAQ page, and product/service pages, on every page.
- Compress images. Limiting the size of visual elements allows your website to load quickly on mobile devices.
- Integrated, industry-specific payment and scheduling tools. For example, a pet wash could use their dog grooming software that integrates into their existing site and allows customers to easily book appointments from their phones.
In addition to incorporating these best practices into your site design, ensure that each page is live with clear, valuable content. Nothing’s worse than clicking a broken link to the information you need but getting an empty page instead!
4. Show your gratitude with a loyalty program.
One of the most important points of the customer service cycle is the period directly after a customer makes a purchase. To retain that customer and bring them back to your business in the future, you need to show them that you appreciate their support.
While there are many different ways to express gratitude for your customers, a customer loyalty program directly ties your gratitude to your customers’ ongoing patronage. When they spend more money with your business, they’ll earn more points and, in turn, more rewards.
However, a loyalty program is only meaningful when it’s possible for customers to actually earn and redeem the rewards.
Luckily, neither you nor your customers need to keep track of their earned points. Gone are the days of rewards program punch cards! According to Revelation Pets, you can use your payment processing software to automatically keep track of your customer loyalty points, associating their loyalty account with a phone number, email address, or credit card number entered at the time of payment.
To streamline these customer service practices, consider leveraging an all-in-one, robust customer management software. As a result, you can focus your attention on developing your leadership skills, keeping your employees engaged, and building your customer relationships.
Gingr recommends using software made for your market and includes integrated online payment processing and registration tools, customizable employee scheduling, convenient customer portals and communication solutions, and accessible software support to help you automate a unique, personal experience for every one of your customers.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Casey! I’m the Sales Manager at Gingr software. Originally from Indianapolis, I now live in Colorado with my wife and dog, Dexter. Our hobbies include hiking, skiing, and visiting local breweries.