1. Develop a rapport with all of your customers
When you’re running a small business, it’s easy for your team to get to know its customers. Your customer demand is small and support agents can spend plenty of time diving into service inquiries. As you scale, however, that extra time will shorten. When your customer base grows, your agents will need to focus on efficiency as much as they focus on customer satisfaction.
Before this happens, be sure to take advantage of early opportunities to bond with customers. Your first users are probably your biggest fans and they’ll likely become customer advocates if you build a rapport with them. By investing in these customers now, they’ll become valuable assets to your business.
2. Hire employees who are great communicators
Small businesses tend to have small service teams of about three to five people. And, in many cases, customer service isn’t the rep’s only job. For many small businesses, employees find themselves wearing different hats and performing a variety of tasks, including service and support.
This structure can work, but it depends heavily on your employees’ skills. You need to be sure you’re hiring people who are stellar communicators and great at working with people. They need to be able to understand customer needs and flexible enough to adapt to sudden change. Good customer service is an effective way to grow a customer base, but you need excellent support reps for it to work.
3. Focus on customer retention strategies
If you’ve just started running a small business, you may want to write this stat down. It can cost up to 25X more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. This means improving customer retention is your key to increasing profits.
You can develop a customer retention strategy that delights customers and encourages them to return to your business. One commonly used method is a customer loyalty program that rewards people every time that they buy from you. This incentivizes them to return to your business and avoid your competitors.
4. Adopt free customer service tools
When your employees are juggling multiple problems at once, having software that organizes their workflow can help them keep track of goals and complete tasks on-time. Every customer wants individualized care but as your customer base scales, it’s more difficult to manage each service interaction. This is where customer service tools come in handy.
There are plenty of free customer service tools that can automate service and support functions. For example, a ticketing system can record service interactions and assign cases to idle reps. Your team will know who’s working on which case and which cases have yet to be assigned. This creates an organized process that ensures all customer requests are answered in a timely, consistent manner.
5. Take advantage of social media for customer service
Social media is one of the rising stars of customer service mediums. Customers love using it for support because they can instantly report problems and automatically receive notifications on updates. Additionally, popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer in-app customer service tools, including live chat and AI. These automation features streamline the support process and improve the customer experience.
6. Collect customer feedback after each interaction
Customer feedback is incredibly valuable when a service team is first starting out. Not only does it let reps know what they’re doing right and wrong, but it also provides management with insights into customer behavior. Negative feedback shows what customers are trying to do and the roadblock that’s preventing them from reaching their goals. Positive feedback reveals your customers’ values and the aspects of your business they admire most.
Analyzing this feedback can help you make important business decisions that extend beyond customer service. Marketing teams use this information to create effective campaigns that attract your target audience’s attention. Sales teams will identify timely opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, optimizing your odds for a repeat purchase. And, finally, product development can use this data to fine-tune products and address common customer roadblocks.
In summary, customer service is a team-wide effort that sets the groundwork for future success further down the line. Don’t view your customer support as a chore — look to it as an opportunity to learn more about your own product. When it’s done right, customer service can be one of your most valuable assets as you found your company.