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.

 

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!