When operating a small business, exemplary customer service is critical, especially with big business constantly threatening to impede on your territory. Exceptional customer service can mean the difference between a one-time visit and a decades-loyal patron. From projecting reliability to forging genuine connections, there are a few tactics that can make your small business seem just as professional and credible as any enterprise corporation.
The perception of reliability is important for business, especially for SMBs rooted in local communities. After all, your customers and vendors could be your neighbors. Start building trust by ensuring that every customer gets timely responses and dependable service. Retaining loyal clients depends on your ability to consistently answer calls, respond to emails, process credit card transactions, order supplies and monitor your website. While everyone has likely experienced internet outages at home, customers expect better when it comes to established businesses. With 99 percent guaranteed uptime and wide coverage, Windstream's High Speed Internet Service gives you the confidence you need to be there when your clients or vendors need you.
Make it Easy for Customers to Connect
In 2018, it’s expected for businesses to have a presence that extends beyond just a brick-and-mortar location. Prioritizing your digital presence by using social media and building a great website will keep your customers engaged with your business. Many people now check out a company online before purchasing products or services, making it important to invest in a website that is eye-catching, readable and easy to navigate. Nothing undermines the credibility of a business quite so much as a terrible or outdated website. Additionally, making platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter an integral part of your overall business plan keeps your customers up-to-date and allows you to deepen those relationships on an ongoing basis.
Anisa Telwar Kaicker, founder of Anisa International, a designer and manufacturer of private label cosmetic brushes and applicators, realized that all the key players in her industry hung out on Facebook. She built up her presence on the platform, sharing glimpses of who she is outside of work, which helped build trust and establish genuine connections.
More than ever, customers expect to reach you immediately whether they are dialing, clicking or using their fingertips, so having consistent availability is essential for your company's success. Although no one expects 24/7 access, missing important calls or inquiries during the business day is a sure-fire way to weaken your professional reputation and emphasize the small nature of your operation. Fortunately, cloud-based communication software like OfficeSuite from Windstream gives your company an edge by allowing you to send, receive, reroute and forward calls and messages from any device, anywhere, anytime. With technology that keeps all of your communications running smoothly, Windstream's OfficeSuite is a product that offers big-business connectivity at a small business price.
Human Services, Inc., a community services agency with multiple locations in Pennsylvania, uses OfficeSuite to ensure that counselors are available to respond immediately to critical clients calls, even while traveling between
Reward Customer Loyalty
Consumer loyalty is what keeps small businesses thriving, so find a way to reward your customers for their patronage. Word-of-mouth, online reviews and community support are all important factors for growth, and showing customers how much you value their business keeps them coming back again and again.
A Cup of Common Wealth, a coffee shop based in Lexington, Kentucky, make it their mission to ensure customers feel appreciated and welcome. By greeting patrons by name, offering drinks for every palette, and creating a personalized pay-it-forward program, this small business has mastered the art of treating their customers like family.
Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your own business:
- Include a handwritten thank-you note with every order
- Hold a preview event for your best customers when launching a new line of products
- Develop a referral program where customers receive gifts or discounts for sending new business your way
- Keep customers guessing (and returning) with regular, unadvertised specials
- Hold community information and participation sessions to help customers learn about your product (i.e. jewelry classes at a hobby shop or an open house with wine and appetizers at an art gallery)
- Single out and reward your most engaged followers on Twitter or Facebook
- Offer complementary beverages or samples to brick-and-mortar patrons
- When possible, sponsor important community events either monetarily or with product donations
When it comes to business, appearance is important and first impressions last, which means bigger often seems better. By offering first-rate customer service, your small business feels huge in the hearts and minds of satisfied clientele.