It’s the biggest bugbear that consumers have. If there’s an issue with a product or service, contacting that help line, online or off, can be a major cause of dissatisfaction. For all businesses, making sure your customer service is the best that it can be is not only important for keeping all your fans satisfied, it’s also vital for your continuing success.

Customer service has gotten better over the last ten to fifteen years because of the rise of the internet and social media, allowing us to communicate more quickly and efficiently than ever before. That includes making complaints. Big businesses have begun to understand that they can no longer settle for second best when it comes to customer service.

While these big corporations will spend hundreds of thousands on their customer help departments, small businesses generally have less budget to devote in this area. That doesn’t mean, however, that your small company can’t be a big player when it comes to customer service.

Many businesses make the mistake of looking at customer service as purely a problem-solving activity. Because of this they spend far too little time in developing it and making the most of the assets it provides. 

The benefits of good customer service

It helps distinguish you from your competitors. People buy from people – it’s an old business and sales adage that has worked well over the years. If your customer service has a helpful, friendly face, consumers are going to appreciate it. If your competitors are not delivering a high level of customer service, putting it top of your agenda is a very good idea

People talk about good service. While consumers are more likely to rant and rave about a poor level of service, they are also just as likely to recommend good service to their friends and family. Introducing a competent support ethos can help bring in more potential customers

It’s a great way to engage with consumers. Any business should be talking to its customers. You can learn a lot from a helpline call if you just take the time to engage. You can find out what’s wrong, of course, but you can also discover what customers like about the way you do business and what they’d like to see change

People are more likely to come back if you’ve been helpful. It goes without saying that if you provide a high level of service, your customers are likely to return. Being nice and helpful to customers is also an inexpensive way to promote your business

How bad customer service will break your company

Bad news travels fast. Much faster than all those good things about your business that you hope potential customers will notice. If you make a customer angry or don’t deliver to their expectations, they are often more likely to tell their friends.

Nowadays, of course, they are also quite likely to take to social media and tell everyone in their circle that you’ve upset them. That means your reputation could be going south in just a few minutes and the couple of clicks of a button it takes to send a damaging Tweet or Facebook post.

There’s no doubt that the advent of greater connectivity online has caused big changes in the world of customer service. Type in the handle of one the big companies like Virgin or British Gas and complain online and you’ll soon get a reply from them offering to help. That’s because controlling what is said about your brand is vitally important and the big companies know this.

The dangers of automation

Putting in an effective customer service is not only about training your staff properly but keeping an eye out on various online channels such as social media. That can take a lot of time and effort and there’s always the temptation to automate the process, at least for the initial contact. Automation, and the complex algorithms used, has become increasingly sophisticated but you still have to be careful how you use it.

Several small businesses, and some larger corporations, have been caught out by sending multiple messages saying the same thing to their customers. When it appears on your timeline and consumers see numerous posts that say exactly the same thing, it looks and feels like automation. That’s not good for your business.

Customer service is a state of mind

It’s safe to say, some companies do customer service better than others. A lot of it is about making sure your staff have that helpful ethos which makes a good impression. That comes from choosing the right employees but also making sure they are well trained. This is particularly important for small businesses where getting it wrong can have devastating effects.

Good customer service has been shown to help many businesses retain customers. If you look at it more than just a problem-solving exercise and the possibilities it has for marketing your business you soon begin to see the benefits. It provides an ongoing discussion direct with your customer about your brand and your products for a start – what could be more useful than that?

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With a background in design, I started my career working in various UK based start ups. Branding, social media campaigns and digital design were my main strengths. Then, I dived into the business side of things. I am now a key researcher and creative content writer at CompanyFormations 24.7.

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