Increasing numbers of people are taking the plunge and going self-employed, setting themselves up as sole traders or limited companies.
In today’s world where it is so easy for customers to make their dissatisfaction known, particularly through social media channels there is one advantage that these new small businesses have over their larger rivals – the ability to offer great customer service.
Very often, the person starting up the business is the expert and is the whole reason that people will ‘buy into’ the company particularly because they feel they can speak to that person rather than going through numerous different channels or a call centre.
We know this from experience as many people calling Office Answers for the first time to enquire about our phone answering and virtual receptionist services are pleasantly surprised to hear that it’s either myself or Ian answering their call.
After a decade of operating a small business and working with other SMEs, here’s what we’ve learnt about customer service:
- Promptness really counts when getting back to people, particularly in a climate where it has never been easier to bounce from one company to another to find the information or service you’re looking for.
- There are times when people still really appreciate talking to somebody they trust. We’re not suggesting don’t take advantage of any technology that makes life easier but we’ve found that speaking to customers and building a rapport with them shows we care about their business which in-turn increases loyalty to us.
- The importance of keeping customers posted with a situation and give them a timeframe when you’re aiming to respond.
- The importance of being available even if you’re not. This kind of encapsulates all the points above. Put yourself in your customer’s position and then ask which comes across more professionally and which you’d prefer to experience:
– to leave a message on a mobile when you don’t know when you’re likely to hear back or know if you’ve dialled the correct number.
– listen to somebody taking a message on the company’s behalf who you know will act promptly and relay the information.