In today's tech obsessed world, it is now more important than ever for small businesses to deliver best-in-class customer service. Why? Well take for example Restoration Hardware's recent social media nightmare, "Restoration Hardware's 3000-page catalogue sparks criticism on social media." With customers eager to blast bad news about a company, product or experience, small business owners now have to start taking customer service more seriously or else one minor mishap could send current patrons away and practically shut the door on any potential new clientele.
As a small business owner, you know the importance of customer service but have you ever considered leveraging it to your advantage to build your business? In order to successfully grow your business and turn first-time customers into lifetime customers, there is one simple rule to follow -- make customer service your priority!
Many of us small business owners tend to forget that it takes more than a world-class product to generate a consistent profit over the long-haul. In fact, just because you may market better than your competition or offer a lower price doesn't mean you are going to reach your greatest business potential. The only way to do so is by treating customer service as your greatest asset because the power of customer service gives you the power to build repeat customers. It is truly the best marketing tool.
This is the approach we take at Tech Armor, and it has been the key to our growing success. We have been in business for only two years but made the commitment to leading with best in class customer service right out of the gate! Not only did we want to offer great mobile device products at reasonable prices but we also wanted to make our customers feel special.
For example, whenever a customer or potential customer reaches out, we don't dismiss or neglect them. Instead, we treat them like family by responding immediately to their questions and concerns. Along those lines, we also provide free shipping and free returns and offer a Lifetime Replacement Warranty on all Tech Armor products. And, when you call Tech Amor's customer service line, you get a human on the line who is actually answering the call from the U.S.
After two challenging years as a startup in business with incredible growth, we are very familiar with customer service best practices and wanted to take a moment to share them with you to help you grow your customer base and to keep your current customer happy and coming back for more.
Below are four keys to providing great customer service and how to make the most of these opportunities based on our experiences:
1. Earn trust by making your product simple and intuitive.
Carefully craft products and instructions to be as straightforward as possible. Leverage customer feedback to constantly improve and update the user experience at least twice a year. Make the experience seamless for the customer and it will be trumpeted to the masses via online reviews.
2. Listen sincerely and leave a memorable impression.
Whether the customer is right or wrong when they are upset, they've encountered something their experiencing as a pain point. Your response should be so passionate and understanding that it surpasses their greatest expectations.
With emerging technologies like Amazon's Mayday button constantly upping the ante on customer service, you should encourage your staff to interact with customers as directly as necessary. Try to move Facebook, Twitter and email inquiries to a more personal platform. Ask if a phone call from a product expert might be helpful? Maybe a quick video chat would allow for a speedy resolution? Use these engagements as chances to improve even the smallest aspects of your business.
3. Nurture trust by owning mistakes.
One of the most important and valuable assets a business will ever have is the trust of their customers. Mistakes happen. What matters is how you react to them. Most customers will appreciate honesty and respond with understanding and loyalty. Own up to mistakes and allow customers the opportunity to provide input for how you might make amends. Empower customers by valuing and implementing their feedback every step of the way.
4. Reach out and solicit customer interaction proactively.
Some customers become frustrated and fail to voice their concern. Others may have great ideas and not take time to navigate the proper channels and share them. Regardless, you can engage these million dollar opportunities by sending follow up emails requesting feedback a few days after each sale.
We hope the above tips will help you to succeed along your small business journey! Remember that customer service may be a simple rule but it is imperative that you follow it to help grow your business. Like the saying goes, "happy wife, equals happy life," the same rings true for customer service: "a happy customer equals a lifetime customer."
Joseph Jaconi and Eric Tong are the co-founders of Tech Armor, a leading mobile device e-commerce manufacturer that delivers high quality products for smartphones and tablets. Joseph brings to the table more than 20 years of extensive business development and management experience in consumer electronics and packaged goods with an emphasis on international development and expansion. He also owns a consulting firm which specializes in international e-commerce and brand development. Having held various senior positions at Belkin Corporation, Eric has a proven track record in launching products with expertise in development, design, and go-to-market strategic planning and execution. He is currently focused on building startup businesses that are innovative, differentiated, and scalable.