It is impossible to overstate how important good customer service is to a small business. Since most small businesses get by on the generosity and goodwill of regular patrons, it is essential that you adopt customer service practices that foster repeat business. Luckily, turning first-time customers into consistent patrons isn’t as difficult as some business owners would have you believe. In the quest to refine your approach to customer service, take care to avoid the following mishaps.
Never Offering Apologies for Mistakes
Every business makes mistakes. And regardless of how tight a ship you run, yours is no exception. Although the occasional mistake is inevitable, poor reactions to your mistakes are not. While it’s true that no customer relishes being impacted by mistakes made by businesses, a business’s reaction to its own mistake can make all the difference.
For example, businesses that refuse to acknowledge their mistakes or offer up apologies are generally unable to foster customer loyalty. After all, why would anyone continue giving their patronage to a business that won’t make amends for its own mistakes? While no one enjoys being called out on mistakes they’ve made, doubling down and acting like those mistakes don’t exist is never an enviable trait for a person – or business – to possess.
So, if your business’s current stance on mistakes essentially amounts to “They don’t happen,” this needs to be amended posthaste. Treating mistakes on your end as nonexistent or attempting to shift the blame to customers can effectively tank your chances of generating repeat business. Instead, offer up apologies for every mistake a customer comes to you with and do your best to make things right. No one enjoys doing business with people who view themselves as infallible, so if repeat business and customer satisfaction are among your foremost priorities, a little humility will do you well. To help make your business more efficient and refine your approach to customer service, utilize dependable CRM software.
When it comes to communicating with customers, unresponsiveness can be every bit as damaging as refusing to acknowledge mistakes. Waiting days – or weeks – to return phone calls, emails and text messages from customers is liable to give them the impression that their concerns and input are unimportant to your business. And when consumers don’t feel valued by the businesses they frequent, they’re likely to start seeking out competitors. So, instead of consistently placing customer communique on the backburner, take care to respond to every patron that reaches out in a timely and courteous manner.
For example, if a message from a customer comes through during business hours, try to provide a response before the end of the workday. Additionally, messages that are received during your off-hours should take priority the next time you’re in the office. Odds are you don’t appreciate being kept waiting in customer service situations, and if you don’t like it, it’s a safe bet that your patrons don’t, either.
Not Being Aware of Tone and Demeanor
While there’s no denying that some customer service representatives could use an attitude adjustment, some of the rudest people working in customer care are completely unaware of their behavior. For instance, someone who wasn’t raised in an environment that emphasized politeness may be wholly unaccustomed to showing others basic courtesy. So, if you or any of your employees receive regular complaints about your attitude towards customers, be extra mindful of your tone and demeanor when communicating with patrons.
It’s particularly easy to come off as curt and indifferent in text and email exchanges. Since these forms of communication don’t involve face-to-face interaction, they often lack the same subtlety and physical cues associated with in-person communication. The next time you find yourself interacting with a customer via text, choose your words very carefully, and make a point of reading over each message several times prior to hitting “send.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a successful small business that doesn’t value good customer service. Unsurprisingly, making customers feel unimportant, unappreciated or generally frustrated isn’t going to endear you to your patrons, but rather ensure that they take their business elsewhere. This is why it’s important to remember that no enterprise stands a chance without loyal patrons. So, if your business’s current approach to customer service could use an overhaul, now is not the time to drag your feet.