On Customer Service for Small Business

No doubt you’ve been on the receiving end of lousy customer service a time or two. You’ve come to a company with questions only to be told by some sterile voice to press this or click that until you arrive full circle to your starting place with no help at all. Or, worse, you’ve reached some bored Customer Service Representative who calls you by name but delivers only the infamous phrase, “I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do.” Now that you are the business owner and on the other side of the equation you must remember that feeling of frustration and helplessness when attempting to provide your customers with superior customer service.

Unless we are taking the time to review our customer service policies and observing what is going on with our customers it is nothing more than lip service. We spend the majority of our time focusing on how to bring new business in the door. Unless those customers leave happy with the quality of service they have received they will not be repeat customers. And wasn’t the goal of the promotion to create a lifelong customer for they are the key to the success of your business? You see good customer service is all about bringing customers back and sending them away happy; happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others and become repeat customers. Creating this long term relationship can be as simple as implementing and consistently doing the following 8 things:

1. Answer the phone. Your customers called to talk to a live person not a robot.

2. Don’t make promises unless you will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship and good customer service is no exception.

3. Listen to your customers. No one likes to have to repeat themselves. Let the customer talk and show them that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

4. Deal with complaints. No one likes complaints and we often deal with it by saying , “You can’t please everybody.” But how about pleasing this one person this one time and position your business to reap the rewards of quality customer service.

5. Be helpful – even if there is no benefit. Solve a simple problem at no charge sometimes. That person will most likely remember this kind act and come back when they have a something major.

6. Train your staff (if you have one) to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so they never have to say “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”

7. Take the extra step. Take the time to walk your customer to a product or through a service if necessary. Make yourself available for follow up questions.

8. Throw in something extra. Whether it is a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective.

Applying these simple eight rules consistently will make your business known for its superior customer service. And the best part good customer service will bring more customers to you than a coupon or promotion ever did.

Growing Your Business Using Freelancers

When your business reaches a certain point, there are certain decisions that you have to make in order to maximize your profits and increase efficiency. The same advice doesn’t work for everyone’s situation, but there are some I’ve found to be applicable even when organizing one’s changing daily life objectives and plans. Here is one major tip you can utilize as you to prepare for growth.
Outsourcing: I have come to learn that there are some jobs that better done by someone else so as to free up your time for the more difficult or important aspects of running your business.

It is usually difficult to opt to pay someone else when there isn’t a lot of revenue flowing in, but you need to remember that your hourly rate is higher than what certain free lancers may command, so why not let them get the job done. Some of the prime tasks to outsource include those in the tech sector such as web coding and design, editing of write ups and even administrative assistance.

There are various internet sources to find great freelancers from all around the world such as on oDesk and Craig’s list. When searching for a freelancer, look through some of their previous projects so you can gauge their level of quality before making your decision. Make sure at the onset, you set expectations of the time it will take to do the job and the final product required. This can be done through time tracking devices such as Harvest and the ones offered on oDesk.

It’s also important to treat your employees well so you can lay the foundation for a future job with them and maintain good reviews on the freelance platforms; it also helps with good karma. Finally do not be afraid to fire fast! The inconvenience incurred earlier on is infinitely less than the future frustration. If the expectations are not met, find another person to do the job. Good luck and go forth and outsource!