There aren’t many positions of advantage that the SME holds over larger corporations – but providing a personable and tight customer service can be one of the few small business advantages that the intelligent SME owner will use to its fullest extent. In this article we’ll explore some of the ways in which a small business can offer high quality customer support that’ s truly the stuff of USP…
- Create rapport. Big corporations might be efficient but their customer service staff are just focused on getting the problem sorted. Often staff might be located in call center cities abroad, with little propensity or ability to offer even the slightest personal touch to customers. Here’s where you can create brand strength. Whoever deals with your customer service issues, train them to establish a personal rapport with each and every client. Get to know them as people, and dare I say it even friends. While every business is all about profits, it’s also fundamentally about people. The people who buy your products and services. And, basic human nature dictates that people like to feel valued. As an SME you’re better placed to provide this than the big corporations ever can.
- Identify your key clients and make personal calls to them. Following on from the above, some clients are just more valuable than others. Key clients are those that provide you with the biggest contracts and coziest profit margins. You need to know who these ladies and gentlemen are and treat them like royalty. Call them from time to time personally, or have a dedicated staff member who can establish and maintain a friendly relationship with them. When you provide this high level of attention, they are more likely to stay loyal clients well into the future – even when a snappier, cheaper competitor comes to gnaw at your client list.
- Happy Birthday! If it’s manageable, consider sending personal greetings to repeat clients on special occasions. This does more than create a little goodwill – it helps to brand your business, and remind old customers that you’re still around.
- Online ticketing system. Depending on the nature of your business, you might benefit from setting up an online customer support system. There are plenty of cheap and free options, and when set up correctly can provide a robust customer support service that is easily monitored on both sides.
- Train your employees on the importance of good customer service. Anyone in your SME who deals with customers should be aware of how important their ability to offer good service is. Staff should be trained on all aspects of customer relationship management – including dealing with complaints and establishing positive rapport.
- Allow your employees the freedom to take customer service initiatives. A lot of customers in many industries from banking to IT get infuriated with the almost robotic, script reading customer support staff who are meant to be dealing with their queries, questions and complaints. Of course, part of the problem is that these employees work in big corporations and have to stick to a narrow script which does not allow for common sense or discretion. This is where your SME staff can have the upper hand – allow staff to work with discretion when dealing with customer service queries. Most employees have common sense – so allow them to exercise it.