How Smaller Companies Are Crushing it with Customer Service
If you've ever been on the dialing end of an automated answering service, you know how frustrating it is to have to "push 8 for product B." It's such a common complaint that SNL made a skit about how ridiculous these calls can get. When it comes to customer service, you just want to talk to a human who can hear you out and help.
For most large companies, their solution for customer service is addressed almost exclusively with technology. Given that we're more connected than ever through phones and devices, this may seem like the right approach. But to most customers, having an impersonal transaction just doesn't feel helpful or reassuring. Many feel the days of good ol' fashioned service are behind us, but this doesn't have to be the case. Especially if you run a small business with a big heart.
Small businesses can absolutely have the upper hand when it comes to providing better and more personal customer service than the big guys.
As a small business ourselves, we're up against giants like WordPress and Wix. While their prices may be cheaper, their lack of customer service ultimately drives business away. We've had several clients switch from a larger company because they're frustrated. They want to work with people who care about their business, make it easy to get a professional website, and be there with great advice. We're able to be that kind of partner for them. We've even helped clients find resources and navigate technical issues with services that aren't even ours.
While customer service can make or break a business, it does require a good amount of time and effort. With a lean team, you have to be strategic and have a plan. As a digital studio, we've found ways to balance the art of personal service and technology, and we've listed six of them below. If you're a small business, you may want to give them a try.
- Invest in good people. If you're experiencing a surge in business, it might be tempting to lean on a customer service crutch like a chatbot on your website, an automated answering service, or canned responses on your social channels. But in many cases, adding technology could make the customer's experience worse. It may better serve you to hire a friendly person to answer the phone and effectively handle questions. This leaves customers with a better experience, prompting better reviews.
- Add better content to your website. Most of the time, people resort to calling a business because they can't find a specific piece of information. An easy way to reduce this type of call volume is to provide a list of frequently asked questions on your website. Another great place for "FAQ" content is on your blog. For example, if you have a long-winded answer to a question, you can dedicate an entire blog post to the topic. Keep in mind that you're not seeking to replace human interaction. You're simply empowering customers to easily find what they need on their own.
- Share tutorials. Sometimes customers need a good visual to better understand your product, service, or industry. Consider investing in tutorial videos, and make them easy to find on your website, Youtube, or social channels. By creating a dynamic library of resources, you could not only reduce the amount of customer service calls but also become a trusted resource for your industry.
- Be a good listener. Notice if you keep getting the same questions or complaints over and over. It might be worth revisiting your products, processes, or policies. Maybe you need to adjust your business model. Or maybe you need to rethink the user experience on your website. Truly listening to customer feedback and being willing to change can be a humbling yet powerful way to grow your business. And, it's much easier to do as a small business compared to a large corporation.
- Provide contact information. It continues to surprise us how many companies don't put their contact information on their website. Or if they do, it rolls to a dreaded automated service. It's like companies don't really want people to call. Be extra hospitable and provide phone numbers and emails attached to real people who can respond in a timely manner. Make customers feel welcome as if they've stopped by your house for a visit.
- Be thankful. Gratitude goes a long way, so thank customers at each touchpoint along their journey. This is an area where you can create automated responses with much success. Let's say a customer fills out a contact form, downloads a piece of information, or signs up for your newsletter. You can have a thoughtfully written "thank you" response that they receive as soon as they hit "submit." Also, as a small business, it may be easier to pinpoint the 20% of your customers who contribute to 80% of your income. Send them quarterly offers or an occasional handwritten note. Make them feel appreciated as often as you can.
Substandard customer service doesn't have to be the new normal. Yes, we get busy. Yes, we feel understaffed at times. All businesses feel the squeeze. But when you have a solid plan, you're able to provide awesome customer service and differentiate yourself from the competition. Here's to crushing the giants with kindness, and if you need help with technical solutions, we're just a friendly call away!