customer service
Angry businessman yelling at the phone

By Brooke Chaplan

Poor customer service in a highly competitive industry can end your company – especially given the vast level of competition found on the internet. Dissatisfied customers often tell their peers about bad experiences and technology-savvy customers also share these experiences on their online social accounts and through review and complaint websites. As a small business it’s important you maintain the best customer service and the loyalty of your customers so they don’t end up turning elsewhere. While you can’t avoid every negative review, you can do more to stand out from the competition. Consider the following to improve your customer service.

Emphasize Training and Coaching
Customer service problems often trace back to the level of training provided to your representatives and the amount of disciplinary action taken when something goes wrong. Improve training programs with active listening and one-call resolution lessons. Additionally, teach your reps that it’s okay to say “I don’t know”, and ask a customer’s permission to follow-up later that day or after conducting research, as necessary. Your clients will appreciate honesty and will come back when they know you can be trusted.

It’s also important that reps see you follow-through with some form of major disciplinary action when warranted. Make the process clear from the start and follow-up with coaching sessions that help employees to improve their skills and warn them about multiple infractions that could lead to employment termination.

Support Regular Customer Contacts
These days, customers who like certain brands and companies can connect as fans of the business online. As a result, consumers expect businesses to reach out to them regularly and to show some form of appreciation for their loyalty. You should contact customers through a variety of avenues, including online social networking platforms, business website chat, and direct online and offline correspondence. Have an Ottawa IT Services come to outfit your website design with top notch security so customers don’t get frustrated with your online store.  You should offer customer loyalty benefits through these contacts, such as discounts and exclusive product or event access. If you have more open and direct lines of communication, you can build more trust with your customers.

Pursue Online Resolution Opportunities
One of the best ways to reduce the negative impact that past customer service problems have on your business, reduce future damage to your reputation, and show that you care about your customers is to resolve problems online. Your IT team should regularly check review sites for negative posts. Additionally, you should offer online support through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. After a resolution, add comments to reviews, complaints, and social platforms that outline how your company resolved a customer’s bad experience or aided a customer in need.

Through these methods you can improve the service you offer customers, their interpretation of that service, and your brand reputation. Great customer service helps build lasting relationships and leads to repeat business and referrals. All of these benefits are critical to keeping a small business afloat in a competitive world.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.