With so many services online and robots fielding calls for large corporations, it can be difficult to actually get a hold of a human customer service representative. It can be frustrating when you have a problem with a product or service or simply want to get some specific information and you can’t seem to get anyone to help. This phenomenon doesn’t seem to be going away, especially as companies continue to send support staff positions overseas. Is there, if anything, that can be done?
Local is the Way to Go
Smaller, local businesses have a distinct advantage in terms of customer service. By nature, a local business will be more personal and the consumer experience is more individualized. We don’t have to preach to you about the many benefits of buying local, but as a business owner, it is your job to ensure that your community is aware of how shopping local is mutually beneficial to both the business and the consumer. There best way to do this is through best customer service practices that take place both inside and outside of your storefront.
Listen First, Speak Later
It’s easy to get caught up in advertising materials and trying to convince consumers of what they want, but it’s important to also take the time to listen to what they need. Don’t act simply as a business making a transaction, act in such a way that allows you to build a relationship with the consumer. A consumer that feels like they’re being heard will be more than likely to come back and give you business in the future. Actively listening and asking questions to customers to establish common understanding will take you far.
Keep it Simple
Establishing a customer service protocol across the board for all of your employees is a good place to start. With this uniform identity, customer’s will be able to know what to expect from your business when they come in or contact you. This will involve encouraging a camaraderie among employees and creating an environment of fun and also respect. Communicate to them how you would like customers to be treated and walk them through scenarios that could pop up while they are on the job.
To bring your reputation for service into the digital world, it’s a good idea to be more active on social media and connect with current and potential customers. Many people go online to do research about business and products and also will post reviews of positive or negative experiences. In fact, 68% of consumers will trust opinions posted online—that being said, the internet can be a double-edged sword, so brushing up on social media best practices is a good idea.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, make sure that relevant information about your business can easily be found online. Customers will want to be able to find your business hours, address and contact information. That being said, don’t completely digitize your presence because you could risk depersonalizing your brand. If someone calls you on the phone looking for information, don’t immediately direct them to your website, take the time to talk.
The way you do customer service is a direct reflection of your business and can just as easily boost your business as it can bring it down, so this aspect of your business shouldn’t be put on the back burner. Using best customer service practices will help you create lasting relationships with customers and encourage word-of-mouth advertising—the most powerful kind.