May 2011


When designing a plan to grow your business, one of the first items on the to-do list should be to examine the quality of your customer service. Let’s face it, you can offer top notch product, but if the customers aren’t satisfied with the service they receive, they won’t stick around long enough to know just how good your product is. Customer Service can make or break any company – big or small – and should always be high on the list of any company’s priorities.

A few things to consider when looking at the quality of your customer service:

  • Good communication is imperative. Make sure you are listening to your customers to know what they want/expect. Be open to their suggestions and make them feel comfortable to come to you with both new ideas and constructive criticism. On the other side of that coin – make sure you are clearly stating the services you can provide that will benefit them.
  • The customer is the boss. In any service industry it is imperative to remember that you do not exist without customers. If a customer wants something done a certain way and you have a different way of doing it, you can suggest your way but in the end, their way wins out.
  • Apologies. First, let me say that no matter how conscientious you are mistakes will happen. One of the most powerful yet underrated tools you can have is the art of the business apology. There is a difference between a business apology and a personal one. In a business apology, not only must you acknowledge your error, you must make sure that you let them know the steps you’ve taken to correct it and what measures you’ve implemented to ensure that it won’t happen again.
  • Focus on the internal as well as the external. It is important that you and your employees have a strong working knowledge of your product and have the skill to exchange that knowledge with your customers. Next, remember that your employees are the face of your company, and as such, they need to feel that they are an integral part of your business. If you keep your employees happy, they will in turn keep your customers happy.
  • Give your customers more than they expect…go the extra mile. Examine how you can elevate your company’s performance and offer the customer services that exceed their expectations. Be forward-thinking in anticipation of what products or services will best aid the customer in his or her own business. It will make a lasting impression on them. If they aren’t buying at the moment, they will remember that you went above and beyond and are more likely to choose your company when the time comes. Equally as important, once they are a customer, they will be able to refer other colleagues to your company with confidence.

The bottom line is this – keep the customer happy and the customer will stay loyal to your company. The goal for any growing business is to bring in new customers, but the true strength lies in the ability to please and retain the existing ones.

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Are you a small business owner?  If you are, you likely already know that you have to compete with a large number of other businesses, many of which may be larger than your business or have more money to “toss,” around.  While you may think that your size automatically puts you at a disadvantage, it doesn’t have to.  There are a number of ways that you can go about making sure that your small business is a successful, profitable one; ways that actually require little or no work on your part.

One of the simplest, yet most effective ways that you can turn your small business into a success and keep it as one is by smiling.  Yes, smiling. Many people, possibly even you, do not actually realize just how far a smile really goes.  When it comes to buying a product or a service, from both large and small business owners, many customers want to feel appreciated or at least like they are being noticed.  After all, without the customer, you and your small business employees wouldn’t even have jobs.  That is why it is important that you and your employees always smile at your customers and always put on a happy front.

Small talk is another simple, yet effective way to make your small business a success.  Small talk can be something as simple as asking any of your customers if they need help finding anything, if you run a retail store, or asking them about the weather outside.  Small talk makes your customers feel important.  It makes many consumers feel good that there is assistance available if it is needed, as well as the fact that some actually values their opinion or insight, even if it is only about the weather.  That is why you and your employees are always advised to strike up a conversation with your customers.  This conversation is what will likely keep them coming back for more.

As stated above, there are many people who tend to forget how much a smile can brighten up a person’s day.  In addition to smiling, it seems as if some customer service workers have forgotten the importance of a simple thank you.  When running a small business, your customers have the options of shopping with you or with a larger company, a larger company that have more products for sale, at lower prices.  What often sets you and your competitors apart is your customer service.  That is why it is advised that you and all of your employers thank all of your customers for their business and ask them to come again soon.  Your customers do not have to shop at your store, but they do chose to do so; therefore, make sure you thank them for it.

Another way that you can help to ensure that your small business is a successful one, one that consumers love doing business with, is being polite on the phone to all callers. While this may seem like common sense, there are times when it can easily be forgotten.  Sometimes it seems is if potential customers call with questions about store hours or a product at the worst possible time, often a time when you are busy.  Although this may be frustrating to you, you are advised to stay calm, cool, and collective.  If you need to, ask the caller to please hold on for a minute, but try not to keep them on hold for too long.  Your actions or the actions of your employees on the phone will have a significant impact on whether or not the caller decides to become a paying customer later on.
As outlined above, being friendly, patient, and pleasant to deal with are simple, yet effective ways for you and your business to make a name for yourself; a positive name.  That positive name is what may help to keep your business running strong and profitable for years to come.