3 Ways for Small Businesses to Improve Their Customer Service

Exceptional customer service can be the deciding factor when customers are picking one brand over another.

Consider that 47% of consumers switched to a different brand after a poor customer service experience within the last year, according to Microsoft.

To maintain and grow customer relationships, small businesses must deliver prompt, thorough, and widely available support across digital and legacy channels.

A robust and intentional approach to customer support allows you to uphold and bolster your company’s reputation through positive word-of-mouth marketing and reviews.

You can begin to achieve excellent customer service with the following approaches:

  1. Implementing social media listening
  2. Automating communication channels
  3. Analyzing ratings and reviews

1. Social Media Listening Facilitates a Quick Response

People want customer service to be fast and efficient, and social media satisfies both those criteria.

According to Sprout Social, approximately one-third of people prefer social media to traditional customer service channels such as the phone and email.

Social media allows you to both establish and foster relationships – Microsoft’s survey indicates that over half of people have used social media to espouse positive interactions with a company.

Use social listening tools to identify when and how your brand is discussed on social media. If a customer complains about your brand, social listening tools allow you to immediately address the complaint and potentially minimize any negative consequences.

Brands such as Spotify and Zappos have perfected social media customer service through personalization and attention to detail.

A responsive approach also allows you to reply to praise to foster loyalty and garner valuable feedback that can help you improve your overall brand experience.

2. Automated Communication Increases Efficiency

Automated communications boost the efficiency, efficacy, and responsiveness of customer care. Your business should use automation to boost the capabilities of in-person support staff.

According to American Express, more than 60% of consumers prefer to use automated self-service through a website or mobile app for basic customer service tasks.

People are happy to resolve issues with a support portal so long as outside help is available when they need it.

Developing a chatbot or implementing an automated receptionist service can help customers easily find the resources and the solutions they seek.

To avoid frustration with automated systems, though, your small business can program automated channels to alert support staff when a certain amount of time has passed or a question threshold has been reached. Then, a human can step in to help the customer.

This ensures that customers receive timely answers in a way that both mitigates frustration and helps to conserve your customer support budget. If support staff is required to monitor fewer support queries, you’ll free up more resources for firm-building activities.

While automation can save businesses time and money, you shouldn’t automate every aspect of customer support;

According to research from Oracle, 73% of customers say that friendly employees or customer service representatives are what create memorable experiences and lead to customer loyalty.

Helpful, in-person support can’t be replaced. Customer care automation, though, equips support representatives with more information and more time to help them deliver quality service.

3. Ratings & Reviews Offer Valuable Learning Opportunities

People look to online ratings and reviews to inform their purchase decisions. Your small business should analyze reviews to determine how you can improve your customer service experience.

Businesses often collect reviews on platforms such as:

These reviews can be a valuable marketing tool. Yet, businesses shouldn’t view reviews as only that – reviews are also a powerful learning tool. If a customer writes a negative review, businesses should look within themselves to understand why the customer left unsatisfied. If they don’t, the business risks more and more negative reviews in the future.

Consider this bad review for Lyft.

The customer complains that they were charged extra money after their driver simply tried to help out a prior rider by backtracking to return a lost driver’s license. After calling Lyft, the customer never received an appropriate refund.

If Lyft paid closer attention to their customer reviews, they might have realized that the negative attention of this bad review is more detrimental than the $15.64 refund the customer requested.

While Lyft is a massive company that can weather bad reviews, smaller businesses stand to suffer much more from a scathing review.

Always ensure that you are paying attention to customer reviews and implementing improvements.

How Small Businesses Can Deliver Excellent Customer Service

Consumers want businesses to provide support in comprehensive and varied ways.

As a small business, one of your primary value propositions is personalized service. To ensure that maintain this benefit online, use your social media presence to respond to customers and monitor brand mentions. Highlight positive comments from customers and respond quickly and appropriately to complaints.

Automation such as answering services and chatbot software can streamline your customer support. Businesses should use automation not as a catch-all solution, but as a way to support in-person customer service staff.

Finally, use your customer reviews to learn from your mistakes and make improvements for the future.

By following these tips, businesses can facilitate more informed and effective customer service.

Bio: Riley Panko is Senior Content Developer for Clutch, the leading research and reviews platform for B2B marketing and technology services. She focuses on business and HR services research.