Customers are probably the most important part of any business.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a solopreneur, a small team or a global corporation – if you aren’t taking care of your customers, you won’t succeed.
They are the best advocates and can do more for your business than a lot of well-crafted advertisements or lead generation strategies.
And this is why customer service is so important; especially to a small business. You should be doing as much as you can to provide your audience with the best service – delivering an experience that is likely to encourage loyalty and increase the chance of word of mouth referrals.
That being said, knowing how to manage your customers is as important as the service you provide. If you aren’t careful, they can end up taking up all your time and causing you a lot of unnecessary stress.
It’s all about finding the perfect balance between offering a quality service but not doing so much you end up losing out.
So, here are a few places to start, that will not only make your life a lot easier, but improve your customers’ experience as well…
1. Establish your boundaries immediately
Make it clear how you wish to be contacted, when you wish to be contacted, and when your customers should expect a reply.
By being clear from the beginning of a professional relationship, you help to manage expectations and set the standard for how you operate.
There’s a common misconception that accommodating your customers, however far outside of your usual set of boundaries or policies, creates an amazing client experience:
“If a client has an urgent request, I drop everything immediately to help – they’re going to work with me forever!”
“I replied to their query at 9pm on a Saturday, they’re bound to make a big order!”
“If I bend over backwards to fulfil an out of contract request, they’ll definitely recommend me to their friends and family!”
WRONG. None of these actions will guarantee your clients are going to leave you a five-star review or recommend you to everyone they know.
All that’s guaranteed is your burnout, and your customers disappointment when they realise this isn’t a consistent and sustainable level of service.
Obviously, you want to help them where you can, but customer service has to work both ways. It shouldn’t involve you working outside of your hours or losing out on time and money as a result.
If you work extra hours or fix their mistake at no extra cost for example – how are they do know this isn’t just all part of your service? This may just become something they then expect, despite all the extra effort you went to.
Again, leaving them disappointed when they realise this isn’t always standard practice.
And this is why it’s so important to lay out your terms and conditions, policies and any other boundaries you want to make clear at the very start of a professional relationship.
2. Create an FAQ’s page and standardised responses
Did you know that up to 81% of customers would rather find their own answer to a query before reaching out?
If they can easily find the solutions to their own questions or issues without having to contact you, they will have a quicker and more satisfied experience. And you’ll save yourself time to carry on with the aspects of your business you enjoy – or make you more money!
However, you will always have those customers or clients who prefer to pick up the phone or drop a message if they ever have a question – and this is why it’s so important to set boundaries!
By creating an FAQ’s section or page on your website, you’re making it as easy as possible for your customer to respect your boundaries and answer their own questions. Dedicate a space to answering all your customers’ predicted pain points and redirect them here as much as you can.
Alternatively, setting up an out of office email or automated response outside of your agreed working hours, reinforces your boundaries and leaves the client with no other option than to contact you in your previously agreed hours.
3. Stick to your boundaries!
I know from personal experience, that setting boundaries tends to be the easiest part. It’s a whole other story to try and stick to them.
It’s easy to say one thing, but not always so easy to implement – especially if you’re used to doing everything you can for your customers at the drop of a hat.
But just remember, this isn’t sustainable. You’ll end up stressed, tired, overwhelmed, and unable to provide your clients with your best work.
By maintaining a standardised level of service, you’re customers know what to expect and as long as you show respect for your customers and take care of them – they will respect the fact that you run things on your own terms.
And at the end of the day, isn’t this the type of customer you want to be working with? Someone understanding and reasonable, rather than demanding and ungrateful.
So even though setting boundaries may sound restrictive to your customers’ experience and level of service, just remember: it really is key to building lasting and loyal relationships – and is the foundation to every successful business!
Need some help improving your customer service stategy?
If you’re left feeling flustered and confused by customer interactions, not sure how to put boundaries in place or know that you could be doing more to keep your current customers but don’t know where to start then check out my ‘Get Savvy and Retain Your Customers’ 6 week 1:1 Customer Service Programme.
As well as making sure you have the correct systems and processes in place for you, we’ll go right back to the beginning and look at how you currently interact with customers, your terms and conditions, policies and customer journey map. As well as setting up some standardised responses and implementing software to help you deal with inbound enquiries.
If you follow the steps and guidance I give you over the 6 weeks, you will see huge savings in time and an increase in customer referrals.Click here for more information.
If you’d like some support in your small online business and have been thinking about hiring a VA, then drop me a message here and we can discuss your needs further.