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3 steps to being the best at customer service

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Running a small business means being busy. Customer service? In many SMEs, this crucial business element is overlooked. Seriously, how hard can it be to be there for your customers? You put an email address or phone number on your website, and everything takes care of itself. Not. This reactive approach to customer support won’t win you long-term customer loyalty. The problem gets bigger as your business gets bigger. Inquiries start to build up, emails get buried, you easily lose track of the last communication you had with a customer. Before you know it, you’ve lost that particular customer - and possibly his or her Twitter followers and Facebook friends, too. Pave the way for long-term repeat business: aim to be the best at customer service. Here’s how.

1. Don’t frustrate them - delight them. With self-service! We’ve become a society of content consumers and professional ‘Googlers’. Our first instinct is no longer to write a company a letter or pick up the phone. We seek answers online. So don’t frustrate your customers: delight them. Provide them with a smart, online knowledge base, so everything they need to know can be found within a few clicks. Extra advantage: less work for you. (Hint: a free (link: http://www.casengo.com/ text: Casengo) account comes with exactly that: a fabulous self-service knowledge base, to be filled by you with your specific frequently seeked information. Isn’t that a coincidence?)

2. Don’t make it so hard on them... Offer multi-channel support! Limiting your customers to one communication channel (the one you happen to like best) when they’re already a little irritated needing support, well, that’s just asking for trouble. It’s a matter of WAYMISH: “Why are you making it so hard... for me to give you my money?” If there are too many roadblocks to purchase the consumer will simply give up. Get yourself a free or paid support tool and make yourself available via email, chat, phone and social media. You’ll see an increase in customer satisfaction, without an increase in effort.

3. Suggest what they need before they're aware of it. Future-proof your business with CRM! Choose to invest in a CRM tool, and use the data to segment and profile your customers for proactive customer support. Take what you know about them and suggest what they need, before they know they do. Send them helpful news items, product tips, conference and exhibition dates, recommendations and discount promotions for related items. You’ll be top of mind when they want or need a product you offer. And with your amazing database of customer information, you’ll know exactly how to best help them when they next contact you for customer service.