If you are a small business owner, you know the feeling of getting an unexpected call from one of your best customers. I have been in that situation. The first thought that comes to mind is that maybe he just wants to see how my day is going. Wrong. Perhaps he was wondering if he had paid his last invoice. Wrong again.
You know what I’m talking about. That sinking feeling in your stomach right before you pick up the phone. In all likelihood he will be upset with something that I did or my company did not do. While it is much easier to let the call go to voicemail, you would also be saying goodbye to your loyal friend. Although it is time consuming and counterintuitive, the best defense against potential service issues is a good offense. Here are a couple of thoughts and action points that may help.
Don’t assume you know your Customer: Just because someone is utilizing your product or service does not make them a loyal customer. I once had a customer who had been with us for over a year. He paid his monthly invoices on time and never called to complain. One day, however, he did call and canceled our service. When asked why, he said that no one from our company had ever contacted him, or returned the one phone call he made, which by the way wasn’t a complaint. Turns out he had an idea for a product improvement, and took it elsewhere since we were MIA. The moral of the story here is to continuously engage with your customers to confirm you are giving them the best service and keeping up with their business.
Train your entire staff on the customer experience: Experts in the field will tell you that while you will probably have a segregated customer support section, it is just as important to train your entire company on how to interact with clients. It’s the company’s culture. It’s the philosophy of the leadership that permeates from the CEO to the newest hire. Everyone must be trained to understand this. No doubt the person in a warehouse or in the accounting department will be trained differently than someone on the front line, but everyone must be in alignment with the customer service vision.
All companies should be P2P: You are, of course, familiar with the acronyms B2B and B2C, but the one that should actually resonate with your firm should be “People to People (P2P).” Companies that are integrating technology, like a chatbot or IVR, must strike a balance between tech and people. As I’ve mentioned in prior articles, I am not a big fan of chatbots, and prefer live chat to any other form of customer support.
Don’t forget to give your customers a voice in how they are treated. Your customers will generally want to give you their opinions, good and bad. It is important to note that once you do gain feedback, make sure to act on it. Whether you incorporate it or not into your service, let the customer know that you appreciated the input, and that you will keep them abreast of future changes.