Customers say the best service comes from small businesses

No one likes bad customer service. One of the most important aspects you should consider as a business owner is how to make sure your employees’ customer service reflects well upon the business. The good news is small businesses are already perceived as the leaders in providing consumers with excellent customer service.  

In fact, according to the recent American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 81% of customers think small businesses deliver better customer service than their larger counterparts. In this issue of The Pulse, we look at why that perception exists, and what businesses can do to improve their customer service.  

Customer service matters. 

Customer service can make or break a sale. In fact, new data indicates that seven in ten Americans are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide better customer service. This represents an upwards trend, as the same studies from 2010 reported six in ten were willing to spend 9% more. 

On top of this, 78% of¬†respondents to American Express‚Äô survey reported having ended a transaction or not made an intended purchase¬†as a result of¬†a negative customer service experience. Likewise,¬†the majority of¬†respondents ‚Äď three in five ‚Äď indicated they would try a new brand in search of better service.¬†¬†

If you aren’t working on your customer service presentation, you might be missing out on not only sales, but customer retention and referrals, too.  

Despite how highly customer service is valued, many consumers feel they are missing out. Most American consumers feel that companies aren’t paying enough attention to customer service.  

Bad service can cost you potential customers.  

It’s impossible to guarantee how every customer interaction will go. Despite what we may say, the customer isn’t always right. However, businesses should still focus on providing the highest level of service whenever possible, because even one unpleasant experience can be costly.  

Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, and consumers are likely to tell their friends ‚Äď and the internet ‚Äď about their experiences with your business. Unfortunately, they are more likely to spread the word if that experience was bad.¬†American Express¬†found that¬†Americans tell an average of nine people about good¬†service¬†experiences, and an average of¬†sixteen¬†about poor ones.¬†

Why are small businesses excelling in customer service? 

With all the resources larger businesses have access to, why are smaller businesses having more success when it comes to customer service?  

Smaller businesses have the advantage of serving a smaller customer base, who they can get to know more personally in many cases. However, this does not mean that the larger the company, the worse the service. Larger companies can take notes from smaller businesses, as well as make use of the newest technologies to make their service stand out.  

What can businesses of all sizes do to improve their customer service? 

No matter what size your company is, if you’re worried about achieving excellent customer service, here are some strategies to improve quality and bring in more business.  

Keep on top of tech updates. 

If your tech is seamless and user friendly, it reflects well on you. This is important for your in-store equipment, such as Point-of-Sale terminals, as well as your virtual service platforms, such as chatbots and website features. Something as simple as the web hosting provider you use, which determines how quickly your web page loads content, could make an impact.  

Phone experiences are a priority.  

It is critically important that any employee taking phone calls and representing your business be professional, polite, and knowledgeable. Likewise, an up-to-date business phone system will improve the customer service experience by reducing wait times and dropped calls.  

Personalized interactions build relationships.  

If your staff and sales team focus on building personal connections and understanding a customer’s needs, rather than just pushing a sale, it will lead to a better customer service experience overall. Customers appreciate being able to trust personalized recommendations based on the expertise of your employees. If you’re looking for reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth marketing, personalized interaction should be a priority.  

Social media is a great chance to showcase your customer service.  

If your social media is a space you use only to promote yourself, you’re missing an excellent chance to interact with customers, and build new connections. The way you respond to comments and the voice you use in your posts crafts the perception visitors have about your brand. Make sure to use this to your advantage.  

Proper employee training goes a long way.  

One of the most frustrating experiences for a customer is when they ask an employee for help, and the employee is either unwilling or lacking the knowledge to help them. Proper training¬†‚Ästmaking sure your employees are knowledgeable and enthusiastic¬†‚Ästis a huge part of the overall image of your company‚Äôs competency.¬†¬†

Be open and responsive to customer feedback.  

Whether online or in person, it’s important to take, listen to, and track customer feedback. When possible, responding in a professional rather than defensive way is also prudent.  

Using online tools, such as Hootsuite, or HubSpot, allow you to keep track of multiple accounts in one spot, and can make matters a little less overwhelming when interacting with online feedback.  

In conclusion… 

Customer service is valuable. Not just for your reputation, but for your bottom line too. While smaller businesses seem to have the advantage in this matter, there are a lot of strategies any company can employ to boost their customer service and improve their B2C relations.