Every once in awhile it pays to sit back and take stock of how you’re running your business. Is the accounting software still the best for the job? Is the phone system meeting your needs? And most importantly, are you focusing on your greatest asset of all: your customers? Sometimes we get so caught up in the mechanics of doing business that we forget the reason we’re in business in the first place.
Incorporate Customer Service into Your Business Culture
Customer service should be as routine as paying your bills or ordering office supplies. And it doesn’t have to be elaborate to make an impression. Often it’s the small things that customers remember: a phone call returned on time, a card to mark a special occasion, a thank you note or a gift.
Small Businesses Have a Customer Service Advantage
An advantage of being a small business is that it’s usually easier to respond quickly and personally to customer inquiries. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and then act accordingly. Remember to be proactive toward your customers as well as reactive to their concerns and questions.
Communicate with Your Customers
Keep your customers apprised of the status of their accounts. If someone’s order is held up, let them know as soon as possible. If you promise to have a job done by a certain date and there are glitches, tell your client right away and let them know when you expect the issue will be resolved.
Respond to Customers Quickly
When dealing with customers or clients over the telephone, try not to put them on hold for longer than a minute or two. If you expect to be tied up for longer than that, take a message and respond as soon as possible. When you plan to attend an important meeting or event with a client, call beforehand to remind them of how they should prepare. After the meeting, check back with the client to find out their impressions. The client will appreciate your concern, and you will gain valuable feedback.
Let Customers Know You Appreciate their Business
Thank customers for their business. If customers regularly visit your place of business, make them feel welcome with coffee. Also, if customers are likely to bring children to your store or office, keep a basket of toys handy. Harried parents will appreciate the distraction, and are likely to stick around longer if their children are occupied.
Ask Customers for Feedback
Finally, when you sit back and ask yourself how your business is doing, be sure to ask your customers as well. Send them postage-paid response cards or make a questionnaire available in your place of business.