As a local business owner, you probably know this: unhappy customers tend to talk more than happy customers. They will talk to their family and friends and post their experiences online. This can damage your credibility and reputation. That’s why whether you’re a small business owner or a freelancer, you need to constantly assess and improve your customer service.
To help you out, here are six tactics that you can incorporate with ease.
The first step is to have a dedicated person in your team to handle customer service. It could be you or someone else with access to your systems. This is necessary, as they will have to find the information about the order or incident that the customer would be referring to.
All incoming calls or emails should be automatically directed to that individual. You should also have a backup resource for days and times when the assigned individual is unavailable.
Next, you should train the concerned individual(s) and everyone else on how to address customer queries and complaints. This is important as customers may not call or email your local business and instead come to your outlet or office.
They may approach any team member and start airing their concern. That’s the reason your whole team should be trained to respond using the following best practices.
Be personal: Whether it’s a call or email, introduce yourself first. Instead of “Hi, this is Westwood Furniture,” say “Hi, Westwood Furniture, this is Thelma.” This personalises the experience for the customer.
Listen: If you’re in customer service, your first job is to listen. Hear the customer’s query or complaint without interrupting or correcting them.
Don’t be defensive: Don’t defend your business by questioning the complaint or the complainant. Remember, everyone makes mistakes and even if you think your company’s customer service is spot-on, there’s always a first time for everything.
Be empathetic: What customers want more than anything else is for you to understand the situation. So, think from their point of view and empathise with them. Apologise if you feel that the complaint is real.
Understand the issue: You may not have all the information regarding their order or incident. The right response is to tell them that you will look into it right away and call them back with a resolution.
Value the feedback: Finally, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. A query or complaint is a valuable input to improve your products or services.
Instead of waiting for customers to get in touch, you can look for complaints or queries in online forums. Search Google Reviews or your business’s social media pages and address the complaints or criticisms using the methods outlined above. Any unaddressed online criticism of your business can easily damage your brand reputation.
Once you manage to address their query or complaint, it’s important to get back to the customer. You could do it the same day or a couple of days later depending on the nature of the problem. If for some reason they’re still unsatisfied, it allows you to proactively address the problem.
As all local business owners know, customer service can take a toll.
An irate client or customer can call you early in the morning when you’re at an intimate dinner or watching a movie with your kids. You can’t ignore the call, as it will further aggravate the problem. The solution? An after-hours phone service.
It will allow you to dedicate a number to your business and improve your productivity. This means that any call or message that comes to this second number during your non-business hours can be directed to voicemail, text or auto-reply text. The customer will get a reply and you won’t have to compromise your personal time.
It may not even be an angry customer but a potential client. With an after-hours phone service, you’ll be able to turn those missed calls into business opportunities.
You should remember that a customer complaint is not a reflection of your commitment to your business. Even the biggest brands and the most efficient organisations receive customer complaints. The trick is to effectively handle them while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
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