What’s the difference between a good company and a great company? A great company goes the extra mile to make its customers feel valued. Live answering services practice exceptional customer service every day to cultivate relationships with clients and anyone else on the other end of the phone line. Just because a business is small in size doesn’t mean its quality of customer service has to be.
How a Small Business can Offer Great Customer Service
Awesome first impressions. A small business, virtual receptionist professionals share, should be customer-minded from the second an individual walks through the door (or the phone rings). Individuals will formulate an opinion about you and your business in less than 10 seconds, so a graceful greeting goes a long way toward making a great first impression every time.
Minding your manners. Manners and etiquette aren’t old-school; they’re your ticket to earning customer trust, loyalty and appreciation. There is no such thing as sincerely saying “please” and “thank you” too much.
Can-do attitude. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a company that has a representative who says “I don’t know,” “I can’t,” or “You have to…” These phrases are unhelpful, especially to a customer who may already feel frustrated. Instead of answering with a negative phrase, try the following substitutes:
Negative: I don’t know.
Positive: Let me find out!
Negative: I/we can’t…
Positive: I/we would like to…
Negative: You have to…
Positive: May I suggest… (or, I’d be happy to…for you.)
Meaningful connections. While a great attitude and being nice goes a long way, it doesn’t help you establish any more of a connection with a client than a drive-through attendant at a fast food joint would. Build rapport and trust with your clients by making meaningful connections with them. During a conversation, pick up on the little things to get the ball rolling. For example, if you’re from the same area, say so. Celebrate any good news a client shares. Or simply ask the customer how his or her day is going.
Calling instead of emailing. It’s easy to remain impersonal in today’s electronic, fast-paced world. There are times, however, when a phone call does more good than an email that leaves the recipient confused. Make the call when you think the other person might have questions about your message. When you think your message is simpler to explain with spoken words than with written text, call instead of writing. If your message is about a sensitive subject, bypass the computer and pick up the phone.
Listening skills. Listening to a client means making him or her feel heard and understood. Show clients you’re listening by reflecting they say and empathizing with their situation.
Checking in. Whenever you make any changes to a client’s account, or you haven’t heard from someone in a while, follow up with a call or email. Ask if everything is going as expected and whether the person has any questions. This simple action lets a client know that you value his or her business and are committed to their experience.
Getting personal. Don’t forget the impact of a handwritten note. On occasion, send a client a note in the mail that thanks her for her business, congratulates him on good news, or sends well wishes when he or she is under the weather.
The Positive Impact of Customer Service
When you have a small business, you have to compete with the big dogs to earn a living. The advantage of having a small business with a smaller customer base is that you are better able to provide your clients with the attention they deserve – the kind of attention that will keep them satisfied and loyal to you for several years.
When customers have a positive experience with a business, they’re also likely to tell others about it. This translates into free word-of-mouth advertising, one of the most effective forms of promotion.
A commitment to providing great customer service is an investment that will drive growth for your enterprise. By giving your clients a little extra attention and treating them like people instead of sources of revenue, you’ll bolster commitment and faithfulness.
Kevin Gillam, Director of Marketing at Ruby Receptionists, a leading live virtual receptionist service in Portland, Oregon, contributed this post. Ruby Receptionists focuses on providing personalized, remote receptionist service for attorneys and small businesses throughout North America.
Image courtesy Dell Inc.