Small businesses may have a tough time competing with larger companies in many ways, but customer service shouldn’t be one of them. In fact, smaller establishments may even have an edge in the service department, with the ability to make it personal for a much bigger portion of their customer base. If you are a small company looking for ways to compete with the big boys, check out these five ways small businesses can offer big customer service today.
Build a Rapport
Small businesses have the unique ability to build a strong rapport with their customer base. How? By taking the time to get to know customers, make conversation with them and provide them with the personalized service bigger companies are simply unable to offer. When your customers see you as a relationship, rather than just a business, they will be more loyal clients and will be more likely to recommend your business to friends and family.
Offer Apologies when Appropriate
Small businesses don’t always run the way they are supposed to, and sometimes customers are inconvenienced as a result. If an error by your business causes undue frustration for your customer, don’t be afraid to apologize for that inconvenience, and even offer an additional incentive if necessary to make up for the trouble. It is truly remarkable just how far a simple, “I’m so sorry for your trouble,” can go with an annoyed customer.
Empower Your Employees
With a smaller staff to train, it can be much easier to empower employees to meet customer needs on their own. Allow your service employees to offer discounts or other perks to customers to make up for a frustrating experience or reward them for loyal business. When your employees know you trust them to handle all your customer transactions, they are more likely to treat your customers well consistently.
Celebrate with Your Customers
Small businesses are in the perfect place to celebrate special days with their customers. Whether it is a national holiday or your customer’s birthday, acknowledge those dates with a card, special discount or even cookies in your lobby. That extra touch is one of the most effective ways to build a loyal customer base that builds on itself through positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Respond – Quickly
Small businesses have no excuse for lag time in dealing with customer requests or problems. Whether your customer comes into your office, calls you on the phone, or shoots you an email, that message deserves a timely answer. Nothing frustrates a customer more than an unresponsive company, so set a business-wide policy that all customer contact must be answered in a quick and friendly fashion.
Customer service is the biggest competitive edge small businesses can offer over their larger counterparts. By putting customers first in your business, your entire staff will learn to deliver stellar service. These tips will set you on the path for developing a positive rapport with all your customers that is the first step to building a loyal customer base and effective word-of-mouth advertising.
- Meredith Estep