What Are The Main Essentials Of Small Business Customer Support?

If you're running a business to make money to support your family, one of the most important parts of it is customer service, since without happy customers you don't have a business. Here are some things you need to know when trying to deal with customer service.

It’s very easy to have a laundry list of everything you’ll perfect as a business when you start out, and that’s good. If you have a belief that you can change expected norms, or are willing to put the extra work in to stand out, that shows tenacity, grit, and a willingness to focus on the future above all else.

However, it’s also true that as a small business, your resources are limited. It’s very easy to conceive plans, but executing them is another story. Sometimes, even proven firms, like Coca-Cola or Disney, can make mistakes and turn off their audience in short order.

Should this demoralize you? Absolutely not. But it’s best to be realistic and to make your plans in accordance with that perspective. In this way, you can underpromise and overdeliver in every category - which is sure to refine your staying power.

It also means prioritizing that which really matters. Having the coolest and most refined branding logo can be nice, for instance, but ensuring your marketing package is memorable is more important.

Gathering customers and inspiring them to try your business is one thing, but securing their long-term support through capable customer servicing is essential. In this post, we’ll discuss that latter point, discussing the vital and crucial elements of small business customer support:

Accessibility & Reachability

Being reachable and available doesn’t mean you have to be sat next to your customer support phone all day, pending any other work. It simply means being clear about when the customer support hours are, such as from 9am to 5pm each day.

On top of that, offering additional formats of customer support can help any customer feel as though their query is not only being listened to, but will be delivered on in a matter of time. For example, taking the time to add live chat services for business online portals can be a tremendous addition to a phone line. Here your representatives can easily respond to direct messages, almost like they would through a social media profile. This live chat is clear and easy, provides a written record on both sides, and increases the frequency of speed of each conversation.

There are also other measures worth considering. For some, using a mainline social media platform, like Twitter, will ensure direct messages are cared for using a platform that many are familiar with. There are suites you can use to better track and manage customer support requests here, often offered by the platform holder itself. After all, the more businesses they can boast of on their platform, the most relevant they become.

A Balance Between Scripting & Autonomy

It’s important to recognize that many customer support centres will use pre-defined scripts to help format each call. This can be annoying when you’re on the other end, but it’s a necessary step so that every customer gets a uniform experience.

However, it’s also true that too-rigid a support script and your staff may not be able to exercise any autonomy or give any specific advice. This might be useful for huge international companies like Amazon that deals with millions of customers each day, but a small business has the virtue of being a little more personable.

For instance, you may give your support staff, or staff filling the support role, the chance to issue refunds or credit accounts should a problem be experienced. Or maybe they’ll be able to escalate issues to management quickly and easily. Ultimately, you get to decide where on the spectrum and balancing line you fall here - but be sure to make a reasoned decision and to stick to it.

Finding The Right Directory

There are some businesses that when you call or contact them, the owner will pick up on the other side and talk to you quite informally but respectfully. Then as businesses grow, one person or one small team may not be able to keep up with the larger demands placed on them.

As such, having a way to format and categorize these calls makes good sense. As such, an automated greeter that stipulates the extension lines to press or the number to dial to reach a certain department is key. Here, you can differentiate between new customers and those who may have account numbers, ensure verified security is considered before allowing access to your support team, and getting an idea of the scope of the issue - be that related to billing, a recent order, or perhaps business-to-business client management.

This way, your customers are much more likely to reach someone who is qualified to speak of their issue. This helps format the entire call in the best way, and of course, helps avoid any difficulties from departments having to redirect calls as necessary.

Allow For Emails

Sure, calls, live chat options, AI web chat measures, and social media can all be great and worth implementing into your routine. Yet some people just want to shoot you an email and wait for your response over time.

Allowing for emails, then, is a good place to start. A good way to begin is to add a contact form to your website. Here a name, email address, possible phone number, and a box for someone to write their query in makes all the difference, formatting the issue simply.

Alternatively, you may just keep a particular customer support email address worth making use of. For instance, help@yourbusiness.com is more than enough. After all, not everyone is well versed or has the time to engage with your team in real-time, or they just may have a preference for quick messages instead of long-form conversations or talking to a live chatbot.

Security Measures

It’s very important to make sure those you’re speaking to are verified before you give them personal advice or discuss their addresses, payment information, or anything related to their private data.

Security measures can differ depending on the kind of format you’re willing to invest in. For instance, it may have been that you’re used to calling your bank and having their voice-recognition software verify you before the call is even answered. This could be worthwhile, but it will certainly be more costly.

Verifying your in-house security process is perhaps more cost-effective and worthwhile. Asking your customer reps to confirm the last four numbers of the credit card used to make an order, the address, and perhaps a secret question that your customer set when creating their account can make a big difference here.

This way, the chance of fraud or suspicious activity is reduced, especially if someone calls you to request a change of their account information, like the address used or to change their password for their online portal.

Software App Security Measures

It can be healthy to implement software app security measures as and when appropriate. If you’ve had an app developed, however humble, security should be part of this. Luckily, many smartphone providers are clear on how to integrate app features within their software approach.

For instance, using iPhone biometrics for logins, like Face ID, or android provisions like fingerprint readers can ensure that the more private areas of your app, like account information, are shielded behind verified use.

Security measures can also offer multi-factor authentication where appropriate, too. This might include sending a quick text to the verified phone number on record so the right user can be accredited.

Pre-Empt Customer Support Before It’s Needed

In a certain way, a customer support call for a problem that has occurred signifies a failure in your planning or approach. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your firm has done anything too terrible per se (for instance, support calls during a planned maintenance outage are commonplace), but pre-empting this can be necessary.

A frequently-asked-questions page is a good place to start in. This gives you the chance to answer questions that many others may have asked ahead of time, perhaps through the online support portal you have, and before revealing your support number.

Alternatively, service emails, announcements on the website (like certain stock being unavailable), and direct notes (such as inserts in the packaging) can clear up any confusion that might be had in advance. Pre-empting that kind of customer support is sure to provide a coherent and worthwhile outcome. Let’s say that this kind of information prevents 30% of support calls you may have otherwise received in advance. That’s an incredible number, a realistic target, and a thoroughly lightened load to deal with.

Hold Music

This is a simple consideration to keep in mind, but we all know how tiresome being left on hold can be. Music can help offset some of that. Of course, it can also be worthwhile to give voice messages that help a customer know where in the queue they may be as of the moment.

Combine all of these measures and you’re sure to curate an effective and reliable outcome. Ironically enough, a customer-focused customer-support approach is always going to pay dividends in the long run.

With this advice, you’re sure to apply the main essentials of small business customer support.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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