Small Business Customer Service - Is it Enough to Meet Customer Needs?

in Customer-service

Customer service has often been defined as the ability to meet the customer's needs. As a small business owner is this good enough? Today not even close!

Today the small business owner is faced with an almost tsunami of factors acting against him, most of which are beyond his control.
Local and federal government regulations are complicated and onerous. It is tough getting funding from financial institutions who are all in a state of panic. Product pricing seems to change every day as does the exchange rate that governs them. The man in the street is not spending as much as they did just a year or so ago. All of these are examples of issues that are beyond the control of the business owner.
The best strategy that a business owner can use today is to try and improve those elements over which he does have some control.  One of the obvious ones is the area of customer service. With excellent customer service, a whole bunch of the uncontrollable elements become less and less important. Being known as a company that really delivers is one way of distancing your small business from the competition. Customers value good service as much as good price, quality and availability of product.
Customer loyalty and retention are key to improving the small business owner's bottom line. It is far less expensive to retain an existing customer than to go out and find a new one.
Instead of just meeting the needs of the customer, one has to start to think in terms of far exceeding the customer's expectations and exceeding their expectations as often as possible.
What areas of customer service in your business can you improve?
All kinds of communications that your small business has with customers with regards to e-mail, written and verbal should reflect this customer orientation. For example, get customers e-mail addresses and mail them with the latest developments and ideas in your field. Another example would be to make sure that your customer is not placed on hold for seemingly endless amounts of time when they call your business. Answering e-mails almost as soon as they are received is another.
Every customer request should be considered. This does mean tackling customer complaints and product returns immediately and with good humor too. Remember that apologizing to the customer for mistakes made on the part of your business and compensating them will go a long way.  At all times recognize the customer as the person really drives that bottom line profitability.
Treating all customers with respect at all times should be ingrained in all interfaces with the customer. Small customers are customers too and they often can become large customers over time.
Regularly ask your customers for feedback and even suggestions on how you could improve your service. How else will you know that you doing things right? The old adage of the "customer always being right" is not too far from the truth.

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Mark Bergman has 1 articles online

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Small Business Customer Service - Is it Enough to Meet Customer Needs?

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This article was published on 2010/04/03