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Customer Service for Small Businesses – Part 3

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Outsourcing Customer Service – Part 3 of Series

 

Some small businesses decide to outsource their customer service to another company that provides customer service agents. This is move that requires careful consideration for a small business.  Management needs to determine if they want to outsource   of hiring more employees to focus on customer service.

 

PROS

  • It can take work off your plate and allow you to focus on other areas where you have strengths.
  • It can be cost effective for startups or very small businesses.
  • There are services that offer more than you could afford to do and monitor effectively in house. They offer a fully integrated customer service center that includes phone, chat, email, and fax capability that also manages online inquiries and issues.

 

CONS

  • Loss of control over the quality of service and how that service is provided.
  • It is more challenging to properly monitor service issues and address and correct problems promptly.
  • There is not any idea the manner in which reps are chosen or if they are happy. Happy employees generally offer better customer service.
  • You do not have the option to remove employees who aren’t working out.
  • If the company that you hire provides poor service, it can seriously harm your business and you will need to repair the damage.

 

If you decide to outsource your customer service, you have many options to do so. Take the time to find a good, reputable company preferably one that is geographically close to you.  Make sure that you review and have a good understanding of the way they work, the services they are providing, and the costs compared with other choices. Additionally, make sure that you test out the company before you sign any agreements so that have 100 percent confidence in placing your customers in their hands.  After you are fully on board with the company, make sure to regularly assess your metrics and customer satisfaction scores to help ensure you’re getting the results you desire.

Customer Service for Small Businesses – Part 1

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Please enjoy this 3 part Customer Service Series

 

Providing exceptional customer service can be a challenge for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for small businesses. Whether you are just starting a business, or you’re an established small business, customer service is a priority.  Learning how to deliver great customer service can mean the difference between happy customers who keep coming back and those that make it a point to share with others to avoid you.

 

Provide stellar customer service by addressing these important factors:

  • Know what outstanding customer service looks and feels like
  • Create a culture of exceptional service within your business
  • Put in place systems, management tools, and reporting that make it easier to communicate with and please your customers
  • Train and empower your employees to solve problems
  • Consider outsourcing

 

Great Customer Service Is Good Business

Customer service is more important to consumers than price or product. Poor customer service will cost you lost revenue and customers and can tank your business.  Negative word-of-mouth, stories of poor service can spread instantly via viral videos and social media posts.

On the flip side, excellent service can boost you above your competition.  Treat your customers as individuals. You need a system in place that identifies your customers’ needs and be ready to meet them.

 

Create a Small Business Customer Service Plan

Take time to really look at your business, the services or products you provide, and all the ways you currently satisfy your customers or clients. Look at all of the ways your customer service has gone wrong in the past and what you could have done differently for a better customer outcome. It makes sense to obtain customer input too.

Once you know where to focus your energy, you can design a workable plan to address problems. You may also want to consider bringing in a customer service consultant.

 

Choose the Right Customer Service Tools

There are many tools available — from social media, to chat, to CRM systems — that can make it easier to serve your customers. Consider these small business tools to help provide stellar service:

-CRM System

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is an essential customer service tool. Not only will a CRM provide you with the reports you need to monitor your customer service, but it also can help you organize and streamline other aspects of your business including operations and marketing.

CRM helps you manage your customer relationships by letting you store and analyze data about your customers, create customized reports, and send custom emails. CRM also lets you slice and dice data so you can analyze patterns and trends.  You will need to find the right CRM system at the right price for you.

 

-Live Chat

Customers today expect instant gratification. Different customers prefer to reach out to you in different ways. While some might like email or phone, chat is essential for any small business. CRM systems do not offer chat functionality that allows a customer to “chat” with you about issues online. If this is a service you wish to offer you will need to use another platform, such as social media.

 

-Social Media

Your small business should be found on all major relevant social media platforms. Make sure that your business pages are consistently branded, filled out properly, and have information on how your customers can reach you. Social media is not just a place to post about your new products or an award you won; they are essential customer service channels that need to be monitored and used to interact with customers and address concerns.

 

-Team Communication Technology

Desktop and mobile apps can help your customer service team communicate issues quickly with each other and with you,

 

Get the Right Reports to Identify Your Customer Service Issues

It is critical to monitor uour customer service. Take the time to review service reports on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You should be monitoring and reviewing the following reports:

Complaints Report

Make sure that your employees log all complaints so that you can review which customer complained, what it was about, how big the customer is, and what is being done.

 

-Glitch Report

These reports are not necessarily complaints but common issues that customers bring up about your service or product. Look closely at every open service ticket, what was last done to resolve it, and what is the next scheduled action.

 

-Time-to-Close Report

This report focuses on how long it’s taking to resolve customer problems. You can use this report to set customer service goals to improve your service.

 

 

Amazing customer service can help make your business a success, but it’s also easy to make service mistakes that can tank your business. A great place to start is the website for the U.S. Small Business Administration. They offer quite a lot of free online resources and training materials to help boost your business’s customer service – take a look here:

https://www.sba.gov/course/customer-service/

 

Keep an eye out for Part 2  and Part 3 of this Series.

Part 2 will feature Customer Service for Small Businesses : Train Employees to Provide Excellent Service.

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