Running a successful small business can be difficult, especially when there are so many huge big-name businesses in our area. Why would a customer ever want to go to a local small business when a big-name business offers so much more at a lower price?
Well, it primarily boils down to customer service. Most big businesses don’t treat their customers as individuals, but rather as numbers. They are focused on getting as much profit as possible, and they have little concern for their customer’s experience. That’s where small businesses can come in. While small businesses are concerned about their finances, they are much more capable of ensuring a great experience for their customer through good customer service. Offering great customer service is among the best ways for your business to compete against national brands.
Customer Service Tips
- Ask Customers for Feedback
Customers like being asked for feedback; it shows that the business is concerned about their experience. Also, feedback from customers is the best way to know what should be changed or kept the same. If customers provide you with feedback, make sure you acknowledge their response and act upon it if you can.
You can ask customers face-to-face or use social media. Social media websites, like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram allow you to directly communicate with your customer and makes feedback considerably easier for both you and your customer.
- Respond to Your Customers
Whether your customer is insulting or praising your service, responding appropriately to your customer is key. By responding you are showing your customer respect and appreciation, which is significant towards maintaining them as loyal customers. Remember, there are many other businesses that they can go to. Don’t give them a reason to go elsewhere.
- Hire Employees Who Care
Many of the large chains have a high employee turnover rate, so when they are hiring their employees, they don’t think twice about whether their employees actually care about the products they're selling because for most of them - it’s just a source of income. This strategy works for big employers like Walmart, but it won’t work well for your business. With a small business, one person’s bad attitude can bring down your whole reputation. Your customers should see how passionate your workers are about the work they do and the business they do it for. You should aim to hire workers that share similar values and principles with you and your company, and you should prioritize treating your employees well. Remember, without them fully engaged and interested in their work, your company won’t function well.
- Develop and Invest
Develop and invest in your employees, your business and in yourself!
Investing in your employees will help build their skillset as well as preventing turnover. Most people are looking to advance themselves. If you give them the opportunity of promotion or new responsibilities, they will find their work more fulfilling and will be more likely to stay with you even if better employment offers come their way. Having happy, committed workers will help you give fantastic customer service to your customers.
Investing in your business should also be a priority. Your customers should be pleased by your product/service and everything in the process from start to purchase and even after. Make sure your building is clean and looks appealing. You should try to make transactions as easy as possible for your customers. Try to see if you can accept credit/debit cards as well.
Investing in yourself is also key. Teaching yourself how to use social media will help you interact with your customers even when they are not in your store (or when you’re not providing a service for them).
- Make an Appearance
While you are the owner of this business and you have a lot to manage, make sure you come out from the back office and interact with your customers and employees. An easy to reach manager is a favorite of customers. Managers can easily handle any questions, complaints and concerns that a regular employee may not be able to. Also interacting and being friendly with customers makes them feel welcome and wanted in your store.
- Don’t Become Defensive
- Use Technology and Social Media to Your Advantage
Try to use technology to your advantage. Try to get a credit/debit card reader or a point of sale system. (A point of sale system will allow you to track purchases by individuals or specific demographics, which will help you with personalized marketing. It will also help you track inventory, give promotions, and control pricing effectively). If your merchandise or machinery is valuable, you should probably invest in a security system. Also, a payroll system software is a must.