By: First Union
How Customer Service Impacts Your Small Business
Regardless of where you are in the life of your business, customer service is going to be the key to continued success. The products you sell and the services you offer are certainly important, but long after they are forgotten, what the customer will remember is how they were treated and how any relevant issues were handled. Bad experiences tend to linger just as really good experiences stick in people's minds. So how is your small business dealing with customer service? Are you currently doing all that you can to ensure top-notch customer service to your patrons? Are you doing enough so that your customers are more than willing to become repeat customers? In this article, we look at the tremendous impact that customer service has on your company as a whole.
6 Reasons Why Customer Service is So Important
Overlooking how you handle your customer service can be disastrous for your business. Customer service should be at the forefront of what a business owner pays attention to, finetunes, and improves when necessary. Below are 6 key reasons why having superior service is critical to small business success.
1. Safeguarding your reputation
A company's reputation doesn't just hinge on how good their products are or what kind of quality service they provide. Perhaps even more so, a company's reputation hinges on the level of customer service they demonstrate. When a customer has a positive experience, they are apt to remember that and consequently buy from you again. What's more, they might also be inclined to tell friends and family about this positive experience. This, in turn, helps to solidify your reputation—a good reputation. On the flip side, if the customer service is less than ideal, that client will also likely spread the news. This then will have the reverse effect and your company's reputation stands to be tarnished.
You always want to make the customer feel like they are a priority during their interaction with your company. And if issues do arise and a problem subsequently occurs, you need to handle that issue immediately. Recognizing where the problem stemmed from and rectifying this in some way will help ease the situation with a potentially disgruntled customer and in the end, hopefully, safeguard your reputation.
2. Solidifying company culture
How customers are treated and their overall experience, in general, is a reflection of the company culture in many respects. Small business owners are in part responsible for establishing that culture. This means that customer service does say something about how a business is run. Are you instilling in your employees a sense of how important customer service is? Is your staff reflecting positive values and attitudes as promoted by a strong company culture? Training here is critical. Every employee should be well-versed when it comes to customer service practices and protocol.
Customer service does speak volumes about the ownership of a company and so poor customer service can impact how people not only view the business but the owner as well. From the very start, the company mission should address the question of customer service and the policies that the entire team will stand behind to this end to ensure that the customers always come first.
3. Building customer retention
With any business, customer loyalty counts for a lot. Certainly, attracting new customers is important, but the trick is to make those new customers repeat customers, to instill in them a sense of loyalty to your brand. The best way to do this is to make sure that their experience is positive from their very first interaction with your business.
Having repeat customers comes down to a combination of offering top-notch products/services and of course maintaining relations through unparalleled customer service efforts. Especially when things get slow or when the economy experiences a downturn, having that loyal client base because you paid attention to the details surrounding the customer service experience becomes so important.
4. Getting those referrals
We live in a review driven world. People look to the internet and social media first before making just about any purchase. Others' experiences of your company do matter to this end. If a customer's experience is a negative one, they will be apt to post about it, talk to friends and colleagues about it, shout it from the proverbial rooftops. This is not a good scenario for any business and will without question impact that bottom line, particularly if the negative reviews keep accruing.
On the other hand, if customer service is where it needs to be and the client meets with a wonderful overall experience, they will then post, shout and talk about your company in this positive context. This, in turn, can get you more business. That customer may even go so far as to refer your business to people they know. Good customer service really can be an optimal tool for gaining more customers via referrals.
5. Giving you an advantage over the competition
If a customer is treated poorly, that customer is likely to look elsewhere for their productservice needs; meaning, they will probably venture over to the competition. So not only have you lost a sale, but you're boosting your competitor's bottom line in the process.
Keep this in mind: bad experiences not only drive customers away, but they drive them into the arms of the competition, leaving you with nothing to show for it.
Your goal should be to be better than the competition on this front. This is why conditioning staff regarding customer service practices and protocol is essential. Your success in large part depends on outshining those who sell/do the same thing as you. Sure, your product may be superior to theirs, but if the customer service falls flat, product quality won't matter.
6. Helping you to convert
Making a sale is the goal of any company, and the only way to make that sale is to treat your customers as they expect to be treated. If your company culture is one of pressure-filled sales tactics versus honest and effective customer service, that sale is probably a long way off. People want to see that you're genuinely making an effort to ensure their happiness. This is what will get them to ultimately buy from you and this is what will lead to future sales.
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