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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.



  • 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.



  • 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 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Train Employees to Provide Excellent Service

Part 2 of 3 of Customer Service Series


Many small business owners are still making basic customer service mistakes that are easy to fix. Taking the time to learn, think, invest in your people, and improve on your service delivery will place you ahead of your competition.



Start by Learn the Ins and Outs of Customer Service Yourself:

-Training Courses

As stated in part 1 of this post, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers quite a lot of free online resources and training materials to help boost your business’s customer service – you take a look at what they offer here:

There are quite a lot of other organizations that offer free training, resources, and mentoring for small business owners. For example, SCORE offers business workshops on a number of topics, including customer service, both in-person and online, with recorded versions available to view at any time.


-Get A Mentor

Consider pairing with a volunteer small business mentor who can answer questions and coach you.


-Continuously Listen & Read

There are so many experts out there that offer other free resources that can be of value to you and your business. Take the time to find and to read blogs and books and listen to podcasts to continue learning.


Train Your Employees to Provide Excellent Service:

For excellent service  every employee needs to be trained on what to do and what not to do.


-Hire the Right People

Start by recognizing that all of your employees are actually salespeople and that you need to hire the kind of people who can provide great service regardless of their position. Your entire company culture should revolve around helping your customers. Take your time to choose candidates who have a caring attitude, patience, and the ability to listen, empathize, ask questions, and solve problems.   Hire positive people!


-Coach Employees on How To Talk to Customers

Employees need to know how to truly listen to a customer as well as speak to them. A casual-yet-professional style of speaking with a light tone of voice can warm up an interaction with a customer and help your company build a relationship, especially if the customer has a question or minor concern that your staff can easily fix. If there is a problem they need to know how to quickly empathize, apologize, and defuse the situation when dealing with a customer who is upset.  Put together a training plan for all employees on the best way to interact with customers and make sure that they practice these skills.


The Telephone Doctor offers customer service training and recommends using the “ASAP” approach to diffuse a problem. ASAP stands for:

  • Apologizing immediately,
  • Sympathizing with the customer’s situation,
  • Accepting responsibility,
  • Preparing to help solve the problem.


-Consider Outside Training for Employees

There are quite a lot of organizations and companies that offer customer service training to help take your business to the next level. Consider sending key employees, such as your customer service manager, to an in-person seminar or bringing in a pro to train your whole team.


-Model Good Customer Service

Make it a point to solve customer problems in front of your employees so they can see how you want it done.


-Watch and Offer Feedback

Make it a point to work near your customer service employees occasionally and offer on-the-spot assistance by making suggestions for alternate ways to deal with customer issues.


-Create a Library of Customer Service Resources

A great resource to have for your employees on how to deliver exceptional customer service is to build a library of frequent customer issues and questions as well as their solutions. Make sure to keep adding to the library as new issues and solutions arise. This is particularly helpful for new employees who can learn how to best resolve common issues that come up.



Exceptional customer service may not come naturally to you, your employees, or your business. Train yourself and your employees to look at things from the customer’s point of view. This is a crucial to creating a culture of excellent customer.  Training can help you identify simple mistakes, help develop ways to combat or solve potential problems, and turn your employees into customer service superstars.


Stay tuned for Part 3 of this Customer Service for Small Businesses.


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:


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.

Top 5 Reasons Why Businesses Lose Customers

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Loyal customers are the best customers! They continue to buy from you and they will usually refer you to their acquaintances, family and friends.


Typical American businesses lose customers every year due to factors outside of their control such as a changing economic climate. However, most customer loss is due to a failing by the business itself. If your customers do not get the attention they need from your business they will move on to your competitor.


Here are five reasons your business may be losing customers:


1.) Focusing on Price Instead of Customer Value

The best approach for smaller businesses that cannot compete with the huge corporations is to focus on the value of their offerings more than the price point. Trying to get involved in a price war with a large corporation will only squeeze your margins and make it more difficult for your business to operate.  This leaves you vulnerable for someone else to swoop in and steal your customers. Customers demand good service, convenient operating hours, accessibility, and quality. Focus on delivering the best you possibly can instead of trying to be the cheapest in your market.


2.) Providing Poor Customer Service

Placing customer service at the heart of your business model will lead to a successful business and loyal customers. You need to be consistent, reliable, and responsive. One poor experience with you business can easily drive your customer to your competitor.


3.) Neglecting Technology

Customers today have very high expectations coupled with short attention spans and very little tolerance for inefficiencies. These expectations are not limited to a physical business location.  Your company’s digital presence must also be up to date. Slow checkout, lack of convenient payment options, lack of delivery options, bad website layout and design, unfriendly mobile website, and more will make customers turn away from your business and to others who better meet their needs.


4.) Not Rewarding Loyalty

Discounts and promotions are great but if a customer does not feel like they are receiving the best value from you, they may move on to your competitor. Continually making your customers feel appreciated in small ways can pay off big time in the long run.


5.) Staff Issues

If your employees are not happy and you have a high rate of turnover, you cannot expect to keep your customers happy either. Your employees need proper incentives, engaging work, and they must feel able and empowered to take care of the customers that come through your door. Happy employees = happy customers.


Operating a successful small business comes with many diverse challenges. Make sure that you are doing all that you can to provide what your customers need, make sure they can get it how they prefer to get it, and make sure that they know how much you appreciate their patronage.