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Small Biz Matters – a half hour program each week where you can work 

ON your business rather than IN it.

Why is Customer Service important for Small Business Pt 2

with Alexi Boyd from Boyd Office Management Services

& Jennifer Taylor from Vividity

Date: 22nd June 2015

INTRO – I thought of this topic over the next couple of weeks after my own experience this week: Since we picked up our Camper Trailer from the manufacturer today – had to drive 1½hrs to get there and let’s just say there were good bits and bad bits of their customer service aspects. At the end of the day we left happy but as a process driven person I saw gaping holes in their customer service process (but happily not in their demeanor which is so important) and although they made some mistakes these were handled with apologies so we felt like we were still getting good customer service.

My listeners are Small Businesses so I certainly don’t need to talk to you about the importance of Customer Service. In fact, you live, eat and breathe it as small businesses. Its our strength, its what separates us from the “big guys” right?

But there are reasons for it to be breaking us too. It’s the constant availability which isn’t healthy. Its us answering emails, texts and even calls from our clients on weekends and all-hours. But on the flip side good customer service breeds loyalty and often the customers who complain, and have their grievances solved can be your biggest advocates. And by the way, no matter what your business is, just like youre the IT guy, the receptionist and the accounts person whether you like it or not as the small business owner you’re in customer service too!

Part 2 – Tips to improve Small Business

  • Now this is certainly where those of you with any experience in small business need to switch off (just for this bit) because if you are in ANY way successful in mall business you are doing this well.
  • Smile! It literally costs nothing (corny, I know) but it can mean the difference between more business or someone whinging about you. Remember you are the always advertising yourself and therefore your business, and your attitude is quickly read by your clients in person and over the phone,
  • I once knew someone who would look at who was calling and respond with “oh no” with every call. Funnily enough that attitude came across when they picked up the phone and spoke. That mix of fear and contempt isn’t pleasant to be around.
  • Hire people who are personable. You might be the best plumber in the world but if you’re horrible to be around, no one will be willing to have you on their property and that is not good for a plumber. And remember your staff reflect your values so ensure you are monitoring their attitude towards customer service when they are on the job.
  • I’ve noticed lately when emailing a business for the first time I get a response which says something like : Thanks for getting in contact with us. Your email has been received and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. No, must of my emails are sent at stupid o’clock so its nice that they’re thinking of me and valuing my time! It means you’re getting an immediate response and although you know the response is automated it still shows your email was at least received.
  • Timing Timing Timing. It is really important that you get back to your clients in the right amount of time. And I want to put the emphasis on RIGHT time. That’s the right time for them and you too. If you respond to emails at 8pm at night, guess what? Your clients will come to expect it. Now, if 8pm is when you finally get to writing those emails, just schedule the time it is sent. That way you’re getting back to them immediately “in business hours” no in your precious personal time. The expwerts call it managing clients expectation and just like us they are creatures of habit. If you respond at all hours to their queries they will always expect that of you.
  • Some great tips from Jennifer Taylor, a successful small business owner of Vividity Photography:
    • “ I always try to treat my clients as I would like to be treated myself, no matter how they behave. I take note when I am a customer myself of those times when I get great service and when I get poor service. And if I have to make a complaint to a business, and that business owner (or their staff) solves my problem happily and without fuss, and turns me from a dissatisfied customer into a happy one, you know what happens? I become an advocate for that business!
    • I always try to think “What is it that I can learn from my experiences as a client/customer that I can bring into my own business?” I think the biggest thing for me as a customer/consumer is to feel like I’m the only one who matters at that moment. I want whoever is serving me in a shop (for example) to complete the service transaction before (s)he moves on to the next customer. And that includes all the usual day to day communications, such as thanking me, smiling at me and wishing me a lovely day (for example). And I most certainly do not want the person behind the counter to be on their mobile phone!! Maybe the short way to put it is that I want to be *seen* as a person, and not just a credit card.
    • And I reckon you can forget most of the text book sales pitches. What most people want is real human connection. At the risk of sounding like some kind of new age nutter, I just try to spend time with my clients as two human beings who are here on this earth together and, for the short time that we’re working with each other, as two people who are sharing a goal: creating gorgeous images together that we both love.