A recent article on Small Business Trends explains that although you may believe you and your business are providing excellent customer service, chances are your customers/clients aren’t exactly on the same page. In fact, when GetFiveStars.com founder Mike Blumenthal conducted a survey, although business owners themselves believed that 75% of customers were experiencing excellent customer service, the customers themselves had something else to say. As the article stated:
“…customers believe just less than every other small business out there is offering less-than-excellent customer service.”
Obviously, as business owners we tend to be biased about the delivery of good customer service. That means it’s important to disconnect our own feelings and realize that we all can improve our customer service. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that online technology can help us all improve customer satisfaction. I could probably write a book on how many ways online technology can improve your customer service, but let’s start with:
- Conduct customer satisfaction surveys. No matter how well you think you are doing in the customer service arena, you won’t really know unless you ask. That’s where online services like SurveyMonkey, Wufoo or even Google Forms can help. Not only can regular surveys tell you what’s wrong, it can point out what’s right or what needs a little more work. It can also help you develop new product or services to meet customer needs that aren’t yet being met. Offering a free gift or discount for taking the survey can improve completion rates. After all, it’s definitely worth a free coffee or the like to know exactly what you’re doing wrong. Or right.
- Improve communication. Instead of dreading Yelp and Facebook reviews, encourage them. This is not only a great way to get customer/client feedback, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to communicate and connect with them. But first, learn the right way to deal with those dreaded bad reviews. (Hint: it’s not ignoring them or accusing the reviewer of being a jerk.) Instead of hating online review sites, embrace them and use them to improve customer service and build a great reputation.
- And improve communication some more. Nielsen statistics show that 33% of consumers prefer to contact businesses via social media rather than by telephone. According to JD Power, a whopping 67% turn to places like Twitter and Facebook for customer service. Which means if you aren’t active on social media, you are failing on the customer service front. Fast responses to online complaints is critical in maintaining good customer relationships and a good reputation. Like it or not, social media is a required component of good customer service today.
- Create a relationship. Not only is it important to respond to your customer’s complaints on social media, it’s a great way to build strong relationships with them. From sharing pictures of your latest product or sale items to encouraging positive interaction, social media builds relationships in a new marketing age where this is a must. Think of it as the technological version of the local butcher knowing everyone’s name and favorite order several decades ago. When clients/customers have a relationship with you, they want to do business with you. Using social media the right way earns fierce customer loyalty.
As I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving customer service for your business by utilizing online technology. I didn’t even mention newsletters, customer relationship management, online events and information or the biggie…business blogging.
The sad thing is, although experts have explained why businesses can no longer survive without social media, studies show that businesses are ignoring customer requests there. 50% of people say they might not buy from a company without a website, yet there are still businesses out there relying on a Facebook Page or worse, don’t have an online presence at all.
I’m sure they all think they are providing stellar customer service, when in fact their customers are likely less than happy about being unable to connect with them from mobile phones and devices.
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