Small Business Customer Service – Best Lessons and Practices
High-level customer service keeps customers coming back. Repeat clients will make your business thrive and grow. In addition, well-established small and medium-sized companies retain and attract new buyers, expand the sales funnel, and increase conversions. In other words, there is a positive correlation between SMB customer service and business success.
Small Business Customer Support from Behind the Scenes
Clients need support before, during, and after purchasing to make their experience unforgettable. Business customer service uses information for assistance and creates a trusting environment, which will become more critical in the coming years than the price or the final product itself.
Why does Customer Support Matter for SMB?
Customer service is essential for several reasons:
Now there is an oversupply of goods and even some services. Therefore, it is not enough for a client to see the right thing on a site or in the catalog to make a purchase – the users pay more attention to the client’s reviews and how the company will communicate with them and treat them.
If your buyer is satisfied with both the product itself and the service, he will tell his friends about you and, thus, bring new customers who will place orders with your company and not with competitors. Properly organized work helps attract and retain consumers and gain their trust.
Attracting visitors and potential buyers is directly related to expanding the client base. But for you to be interesting, you will need to improve your market position and develop ideas that will enhance your product, marketing, and service. And, of course, listen to the opinions of others, since the market now works for the buyer, and not vice versa.
Main Lessons for Excellent Small Business Customer Service
Most SMBs focus on getting customers but not so much on keeping them. But it costs 5 times more to attract a new shopper than to retain an existing one.
However, repeat referral depends on service, so profit maximization and its increase are directly related to your company’s level of customer service.
Therefore, entrepreneurs should invest in developing and improving this segment in the early stages. Awareness of the need for a special department in the enterprise is beneficial not only in terms of increasing income. A well-thought-out algorithm allows you to recoup the cost of attracting new shoppers and create an army of loyal followers.
Run Training for Support Team & Make Scripts
Training your employees will ensure the highest degree of customer service at all times. The relevant service or department staff must be taught to deal with problems, from technical errors to angry visitors and callers. This is the best way for small businesses to survive long-term.
In addition, a properly trained team can make quick decisions that will not negatively affect the company’s bottom line.
Make it Multichannel, NOT Omnichannel
Various tools are available on the market to help you resolve issues or clarify any details for regular and potential clients. Use the maximum number of these channels so that the user can always ask for assistance.
Ideally, employees in the company should work with:
live chat support;
request form on the website;
other online and offline forms of communication.
But remember that it is impossible to cover absolutely all tools – focus on a few suitable channels for your business and the number of employees. This will help minimize the request processing time and work simultaneously with several programs and resources.
As a result, the applicant will be able to start a conversation in one chat and continue it, for example, by e-mail. And if suddenly some channel is temporarily down – report it to others. This will increase the trust and level of understanding of customers.
Good customer service is when the consumer is pleasantly surprised after leaving or hanging up. It involves being proactive and giving more than what people came to you for.
Competent support is the conclusion of a deal and constant communication with the counterparty, even after the purchase is made or the person has registered on the site.
Periodically write letters to email (but do not spam) and keep active on social networks – this will help attract leads and inform about new products and promotions. For example, suppose an SMB is engaged in software development. In that case, it is necessary to notify users in advance of bugs, updates, and other nuances that may affect platform performance and customer loyalty.
Best Practices for Small Businesses to Follow
Business customer service is the link between the company and the customer. It is unlikely that a client will buy something from a company again if he encounters rudeness, lack of help, or elementary courtesy that directly impacts the business profit.
Therefore, let’s consider how the company organizes its activities and the department’s work to make the consumer happy.
Accessible & Timely Customer Support
Backing plays a decisive role in whether a user chooses your product. And this applies to both existing and potential customers. According to Gartner Research, 89% of companies benefit from support quality.
Users’ standards have risen. They immediately write bad reviews on social media and third-party review platforms, which get wide coverage and can ruin the reputation of any SMB. That is why you need to help buyers equally in all channels – any mistake can be fatal. It is crucial to organize support through the website and social networks.
To organize support on the site, be sure to make a feedback form, with the help of which the support service can process any question. It is also desirable to provide an online chat for prompt resolution.
According to the 2020 Live Chat Benchmark Report, over 41% of users prefer to get help via live chat, and most of them expect to receive a response within 46 seconds. And the customer satisfaction ratings for chat boxes are high – over 85%.
Moreover, Intercom can be useful for sales, marketing, and customer support – all in one platform, which is what Living Spaces has done.
Various social networks are also actively used to receive and process requests. They are the cheapest and easiest method of communication.
According to Forrester, digital customer service interactions will increase by 40%. It means that many consumers use social networks to solve emerging issues. To make it efficient:
1. Choose the most popular social network in your sphere and stick to it.
To get started, work actively with one, and then you can expand the number of communication channels. For example, KLM Airlines has official pages on almost all social media channels but cannot cover all requests. Based on feedback from social media, customers are not satisfied and wait for an eternity to receive feedback.
It is essential to focus only on several channels and react fast to brand mentions using automated tools like Awario and Brandwatch.
2. Respond to everyone on social media.
This policy helped Zappos, a popular online shoe and clothing store, become a leader and viral back in 2018 when they literally helped with every request.
3. Understand what issues should be addressed publicly or privately.
Develop guidelines to provide a clear recommendation on handling social media customer inquiries. Like it do, clothing companies ask customers to DM their order number to quickly assist with specific purchase-related questions.
Surely, most customers come over with complaints with order numbers in the comments but try to have more conversations in private messages to save the sensitive customer information from the public on social media.
4. Answer important customer questions as soon as possible.
According to The SproutSocial, 39% of customers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes. However, the average response time for businesses is about 5 hours (HubSpot).
Knowledge Base & FAQ Section
The knowledge base is like an incredibly comprehensive, indexed search engine and FAQ section. Rather than just a few sentences in response to a general query, the database offers detailed tutorials and is ideal for communicating with clients who prefer to figure things out on their own rather than asking a lot of questions.
Clients prefer self-service rather than face-to-face contact with a consultant. But consider their preferences when building an effective knowledge base:
Include various content in the Resource Center, just like Smartsheet, a team and project management software company, did. You can publish everything from audio to videos and other media formats. Thus, you allow your clients to absorb information in a way that suits them.
You can analyze selected key phrases and make the knowledge base and FAQ section visible in the Google search. It is quite simple to do this with automated tools like SE Ranking. It can find keywords your site ranks for, uncover keyword gaps for further optimization, analyze competitors for selected keywords, etc. As a result, customers will be able to enter their query into a search engine and instantly receive an answer to it by entering your site. That is how SEO should work.
Across all industries and businesses, SMBs and even start-ups are using live chats, chatbots, and digital assistants. All of these innovations can speed up and simplify many customer service tasks:
Chatbots can save the support desk from phone calls.
Modern programs, such as animated chatbots, help quickly answer questions and increase the level of trust and attract new customers. Kia Motors has already taken advantage of this new product – now, real people and digital ones can help in car dealerships. It brought Kia three times more conversions through chatbot than its main website.
The productivity of employees increases, and the time for processing a request is significantly reduced. Also, the number of great customer reviews increases after the problem is solved.
Enable Remote Support Teams
SMBs, especially during the pandemic, continue to work remotely and with freelancers. Therefore, it is necessary to consider ways to connect to the base, improve skills online, and communicate within the company.
To do this, you can implement different tools:
OS for organizing work on one visual platform with access from everywhere (Monday.com)
Recognition & rewards platform (Nectar);
Online collaboration program (Bonusly);
Virtual dashboard and guided workflow (Favro);
Internal chat and special platform (Teamwork).
Feedback helps make products and services better, optimizes the work of departments, and retains customers. Gathering customer information helps determine how satisfied they are and identify areas where you need to improve.
Feedback shows customers that their opinion is valuable to you. In addition, it helps to improve and optimize the work and make business decisions.
There are many ways to collect customer feedback, such as proactive live chat customer support, calling customers to resolve issues, direct emails, customer feedback forms, etc. One of which is sharing surveys over social media that helps to be socially active and collecting feedback from followers to keep the conversation going.
Customer service is essential for business. It is the direct link between you and your clients. Without quality customer service, it is difficult for any company to win the favor of fans and attract loyal followers. It is safe to say that when consumers do not feel appreciated, they go elsewhere, and sales and income decrease.
It is challenging for SMBs to compete in terms of assortment and price. That is why building quality customer service for small businesses provides a reliable competitive advantage and allows them to feel more confident in the market.
Author bio: Alina Tytarenko is part of the marketing team at SE Ranking. She shares her experience in marketing techniques, link building, content marketing, and SEO with readers. She likes to read, practice animal flow, and play video games in her spare time.