Customer service advice for small businesses

If you’re a small business such as a dentist, medical specialist, auto shop, hairstylist, or veterinarian, you know how important each customer is to your bottom line. You can’t afford to lose a customer or patient due to a bad experience, and many of your customers might come to you specifically because they want the “white glove” customer support you can give them.

Every small business should strive to provide best-in-class customer support to its clients. The business that can make its customers feel special is the one who will foster loyalty and return visits. Additionally, your reputation – both online and via word-of-mouth marketing – will improve.

A Starter Guide: Customer Service Advice for Small Businesses 

Treat every client like they’re you’re only client… to a point

For any business, quality customer service and support are vital in keeping customers happy and willing to recommend you to their family, colleagues, and friends. If you strive to treat every client like they’re your only client, it’s a win-win. Just make sure you’re not neglecting other clients. Some advice:

  • If you can, assign a Customer Success Representative to each client, and try to have this be the point of contact for that client. Establishing a consistent representative for your business can help make your customer feel more comfortable and understood.
  • Avoid canned responses, and when possible, tailor your communications directly to your client, making sure to keep their preferred communication method and channel in mind.

Set boundaries and expectations… make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re going to grow your business, you need to recognize that some customers are better for your business than others. What this means is that as long as you show respect for your customers and treat them well, they will (and should) respect you and how you run your business. This is the customer that will help you grow, and the kind you want to keep coming back. If you don’t set boundaries with your customers, they can end up creating unneeded stress and consuming valuable time. Some advice:

  • You don’t need to be a 24/7 business if that doesn’t fit within your business model. It’s important that you run your business on your own terms and establish a clear day-to-day schedule with your customers. If you continue making exceptions, your customers might understandably not even know when you are truly open, and continue to expect “after hours” service.
  • Keep your business listings online up-to-date and send out text and/or email communications to your customers when you have modified or changing hours.

Handle things promptly… remember who your audience is

When you’re dealing with anything on social media, it’s critical to always respond quickly and in a professional manner. According to some studies, over 67 percent of Internet users are on social networks, and this means that you need to develop strong relationships with your customers on and offline. Think of it like a relationship: if one side thinks the other isn’t communicating, listening, or engaging, then a breakup might be on the horizon. Remember…

  • On social media, silence leads to losing customers – no response, or a slow response, can be read as apathy or coldness by customers
  • You don’t need to respond seconds after a post, but you should respond. Some incentive? A Harris study showed that 18 percent of people who posted negative reviews and received a reply went on to become loyal customers. And 70 percent reversed the content, either by deleting the negative comment or posting a follow-up positive one. 

It never hurts to ask… for referrals and testimonials 

If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, you probably know that referrals are one the most effective ways to grow your business and attract new, loyal customers. However, you also may HATE asking for referrals, or just not know how. Don’t assume that your customers will just talk about your business, and your great customer service. Remember: the more you ask for referrals, the more you’ll get. Here are some tips:

  • Make asking for a referral part of your routine. With some systems, like Demandforce, you can automatically send a referral follow-up to customers who have just visited your business. These are great ways to not only collect feedback on how you’re doing, but also allow your customers to review you and post those reviews online. Remember that most people like to help out others, especially if it’s not a complicated process.
  • Combine asking for referrals with requesting testimonials – consider creating testimonial cards that you can pass out at your front desk, so that someone can write one and then either drop it in the mail, or email you back. You can also send a targeted email requesting a testimonial or feedback from customers who have rated you highly in a review.

Looking for more advice on how to provide best-in-class customer service? It’s always a good idea to improve your communications, and Demandforce can help. Contact us today to see a demo. We believe in stellar customer service as well! Every Demandforce customer is paired with a Customer Success Manager, who will help you set up and optimize any and all Demandforce features to best suit your business and business goals. Call us at (888) 272-7821, or visit demandforce.com.

 

The benefits of Demandforce Local for your business

Demandforce Local is a public, searchable directory of 28,000 small businesses located in your neighborhood and across the U.S.

For Demandforce customers, a Demandforce Local business listing provides multiple benefits, and in today’s article, we’ll examine a few.

DF Local increases your business’ online visibility

Demandforce Local was designed to increase your online visibility, so you can extend your reach to new customers and boost local sales. Your DF Local business listing can be quickly and conveniently updated directly from within your DF portal, so you know your data is always up-to-date.

DF Local offers strong SEO support to boost your business name in a Google search

For a small business, having a strong presence online is a crucial part of how you attract new customers and continue to grow. The more sites you can get listed on, the better—especially if those sites are recognized as trustworthy and helpful to Google’s ever-updating algorithm that ranks sites. Where your business shows up in a list of Google search results basically boils down to the strength of your online reputation – and Demandforce Local can help. With the help of automatic review requests from Demandforce’s online marketing platform, your business can collect and highlight certified customer reviews all on one site. This strengthens your online reputation and helps widen your reach to new customers.

DF Local allows you to post targeted special offers for your customers

One feature of Demandforce Local is its ability to post targeted special offers to your customers. This allows you to foster customer loyalty and entice new customers to try your services over a competitor’s. You can view a list of the online specials you offer within your Demandforce portal, along with a summary of the activity generated from them, allowing you to test and learn which offers work best for your customer and prospect base.

DF Local provides useful metrics and customer insights for your business

In order to grow, you need to understand your customer, and one of the best ways to develop keen customer insights is by tracking metrics such as the performance of certain marketing campaigns, or numbers of appointments booked on specific channels (e.g., via Facebook, your website, or an email link). You can view these metrics on your Demandforce Local homepage, including how many appointments were booked via your page, and how many times your profile has been viewed.

DF Local gives you the opportunity to network with other local, non-competing businesses

Cross-sell opportunities are often an important aspect of building and maintaining a small business. The relationships you foster with other local businesses can help introduce your business to new customers, and you can boost your local reputation. One of the benefits of Demandforce Local is that your business is promoted to a network of non-competing businesses, and you can track activity in your network, in case you want to connect with other local business owners for promotions or events.

These are only a few of the ways Demandforce Local can benefit your business. To learn more about Demandforce Local, you can set up a complimentary consultation with a Demandforce expert. Call us at (888) 272-7821.

3 quick tricks to strengthen your online reputation

Looking for 3 quick tricks to help you strengthen your online reputation? While nothing beats taking the time to nurture your brand identity and personality online with steady, consistent engagement, the following are 3 quick tricks to help jumpstart your online presence.

1. Leverage Social Media

You took the time to set up your Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter, and LinkedIn – so now’s the time to utilize them! Collect and post customer reviews on social media, and connect with your customers through engaging, relevant social posts. Showcasing your business on social media increases your value and exposure exponentially!

2. Use Negative Reviews Wisely

Always acknowledge and respond to negative reviews, creating a conversation to reach a resolution. Never leave a negative comment unanswered on a Facebook post or your Yelp page. Even if you need to take the conversation offline, respond publicly so that other customers and prospects see that you responded in a timely matter, and care about working with the customer to come to some sort of resolution. Remember, some negative feedback can add more legitimacy to your positive reviews.

3. Measure, Measure, Measure

Never stop tweaking and learning from your posts and your customers. Establish a plan to track and monitor your online reputation, including these important indicators:

  • Volume
  • Velocity
  • Sentiment
  • Recency
  • Keywords

If you want to strengthen your business’ online reputation, check out the online reputation management tools from Demandforce. You can send automatic review requests, post directly to popular search sites, and manage your online reputation all from our easy-to-use online platform.

Call us at (888) 272-7821 to see a demo, or visit demandforce.com for more info.

[Infographic] 5 best ways to increase survey response rates

When was the last time your business sent out a survey to your current database of patients, clients, or customers? Surveys are important for your business for the following reasons:

  • You keep up-to-date on what your patients/clients actually want from your services
  • You increase patient/client satisfaction by showing that you value feedback
  • You get a more accurate view of your current brand / business reputation and perception
  • You can use the results to identify and improve services, products, or strategy

However, before you shoot off a long survey to your email database, you might want to consider a few things that will drive up response and make sure you’re not being a nuisance. Check out the infographic below for 5 Ways to Increase Survey Response Rates, and then when you’re ready to send your first (or next!) survey, send it through Demandforce! Demandforce offers customers the ability to send patient/client surveys directly from our easy-to-use online platform. To see a demo of Demandforce, call us at (888) 272-7821 or visit demandforce.com.

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Find out how to get more Google+ reviews

If you’re a small business owner, you probably already realize the importance of Google+ reviews for your business or practice. Google is often the first point of contact between a potential patient/customer and your office. The idea of searching on Google has become so ubiquitous, “Google it” is an instantly recognizable phrase.

Therefore, Google+ reviews are strong online currency that can boost your online reputation and make you the first choice for new customers. Online reviews strengthen your social proof, which refers to a human’s natural reliance on feedback and the actions of others to determine what is good or bad in a given situation. Social proof is the reason why studies often show that an overwhelming majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when making a purchasing decision.

A 2014 study done by the marketing firm BrightLocal found that the more reviews a business has, the more trustworthy it is deemed by customers; plus, most customers read up to six reviews to make up their mind about a business.

How many Google+ reviews does your business have?

Don’t worry if that number isn’t as large as you might want it to be. There’s a simple way to generate more Google+ reviews for your business: request them from your previous patients and customers!

With Demandforce, this process is simple to set up. Google+ does not accept third party reviews, so we have created special email templates that you can send out to your database, to request Google+ reviews.

Here’s how to set up a Google campaign in Demandforce

Click on CAMPAIGNS and turn on your ONE-CLICK CAMPAIGNS, and select the “Review us on Google+” option. You can preview the email, and edit the audience or scheduled delivery to best fit your business. By default, the email will send to all customers who rated your business on Demandforce Local or another logged site four stars or above, and will run once every two weeks. However, rest assured – a single customer will only receive the email twice a year.

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Once your email has sent, you can view the sent and open rate results in the RESULTS section of the CAMPAIGNS tab. You can also edit or stop the campaign at any time in this area.

For more detailed information on how to set up or use the Google+ campaigns, click here.

Do Your Customers Love You? (Infographic)

In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, we wanted to share this fitting infographic with you.

As a small business owner, customer loyalty and retention are crucial to maintaining a healthy and successful business that is ready to grow when you are. If your customers aren’t happy, your business won’t thrive. But how do you know if your customers love you, and what can you do to keep them happy and coming back?

Follow this infographic, and be honest about your answers, to see the state of your current customer relationship.

However strong your relationship is, you can always improve it! Demandforce offers customer and patient communications solutions designed to help you stay connected with your base, and engaged. Through the use of powerful automation processes like automated appointment reminders, two-way text, custom email campaigns, and online review management – Demandforce can help you always send relevant and timely messages to your customers. To set up a time to see a personalized demo, click here.

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A Quick 4 Online Reputation Checklist

As the owner of a small medical or dental practice or small business, your online reputation is important to establishing your credibility to your patients and customers, attracting new business, and growing your bottom line. However, if you’re just starting out on the online world, you might not know where to start. But you need to stay conscious of what you’re posting on the Internet, and how quickly it can spread.

Here’s a quick 4 checklist you can use to determine the strength of your online reputation, and what you might need to focus on.

✓ Set up a Yelp business page, Facebook page, and Citysearch page for your business.

If you don’t have, or don’t maintain, a public profile on any or all of these sites, you’re missing out not only on the opportunity to attract new clients; but you also might be allowing a negative reputation to build itself online without your knowledge.

✓ Google your business and set up a Google Alert

You should always be aware of how your practice or business is being represented online, and who’s talking about it. Setting up a Google Alert for your business name, and even say—a competitor’s name or keywords for your industry—keeps you aware of what’s trending, and who’s talking about you.

✓ Collect testimonials and positive reviews to share on your website, on your storefront, and online.

Don’t know how to collect reviews? With Demandforce, you can send one-click online review requests to your patients and customers to help you collect more and better online reviews.

✓ Survey your customers to see what you can improve upon and what it is you’re doing that they like

Sending patient and customer surveys helps you keep appraised of what’s working for your customers, and what might not be. Plus, it shows your customers that you care, and that you’re proactive in accepting feedback and always looking to improve the customer experience.

Once you have addressed and set up these four aspects of your online reputation, you’ll be on your way to discovering a whole new world of potential patients and customers, and owning your online reputation.

Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing Still Matters

In business, word-of-mouth marketing often involves a happy customer who promotes your business, product, or service to other people, through referrals, recommendations, online reviews, or social posts. These mentions are most often unpaid (though some referral programs provide incentives), and can be incredibly effective at attracting new customers and providing social proof.

Some important statistics:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing is still the most trusted form of marketing, trusted by 84% of consumers (source: Nielson)
  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making buying decisions (source: USM)
  • 65% of new business comes from referrals (source: Womma.org)
  • 27% of consumers would pay 15% or more to receive superior customer service (source: Womma.org)
  • Customers acquired through word-of-mouth spend 200% more than the average customer, and make up to 2x as many referrals (source: Business Pulse)

As more businesses focus on organic marketing strategies such as utilizing social media and online reviews to boost business, it’s important to understand why word-of-mouth marketing is valuable and why it still matters.

Word-of-mouth marketing is about trust, and building trust with your customers, vendors, and partners. This is why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful, and also so trusted. Within our daily conversations, we discuss brands, products, and businesses. It’s part of human nature to want to share good experiences (and bad!) with others, and everyone enjoys being able to recommend a business or product that might help out a friend, relative, or colleague.

Setting up a simple, yet effective, referral campaign

One of the most effective byproducts of good word-of-mouth marketing is a referral from a happy customer. Follow these steps to make it easy for your customers to recommend your business to their friends & family.

  1. Create a compelling offer
  2. Promote your referral program through an eblast and on social media
  3. Make sure the referral process is simple, quick, and easy
  4. Personalize the initial referral messaging and onboarding process
  5. Keep your referral program top-of-mind with social posts & reminder emails
  6. Monitor and optimize your referral program based on results

If you are looking to create your first (or next) referral campaign, Demandforce can help. You can send a pre-written referral campaign email and get help requesting online reviews from happy customers. Get more 5-star reviews and gain more customer advocates with word-of-mouth marketing and grow your business!