Doing business is tough, but that's why they call it "business," right? Whether you're just getting your feet off the ground or you've been around the block a few times, you're bound to have some hiccups with customer relations.
We've posted before about what happy (and unhappy) customers can do for you business by leaving reviews on sites like Yelp. Getting good reviews (and avoiding negative ones) is only part of the reputation management puzzle, though. Today we're going to look at the importance of keeping your customers happy from the outset. Here's why customer service should be the lifeblood of your business.
The Golden Rule
Treat others as you would like to be treated. That's the "golden rule." And yet, it seems that many businesses end up ignoring (or forgetting!) those golden words when it comes to how they treat their customers. Your brand is your most important asset as a business. The value of your company's public image cannot be understated, so make sure you do everything you can to protect it from the start!
From the beginning of your pipeline, you should have the customer's experience in mind. This is a central idea behind the inbound marketing methodology (i.e. the "buyer's journey").
Design your website to be user-friendly and fast-loading (read more about optimizing your site for user-experience here!) and let visitors to your site navigate unimpeded by annoying interstitial pop-up ads or constant plugs for your products or services. The goal is to entice your visitors with relevant information and content!
Keep your site flow clean and logical. Users should be able to navigate your business' website equally well whether they know exactly what they want (and what you're offering) or just like the name of your company. A happy beginning to the relationship between you and your customers sets the stage for great customer service down the line.
Further on down the pipeline, you're going to want to keep your existing customers satisfied by showing that you care about their needs and concerns. It should be easy and painless for customers to leave feedback for your business.
This means having a contact form embedded on your website (and actually replying to those messages!), making sure that your correct phone and address information is listed on both your site and search engines (and actually picking up the phone!), and soliciting and responding to reviews (both the good and the bad!).
Speaking of responding to reviews, let's touch on one of the most important aspects of customer service: dealing with customers who don't like you.
Having the occasional customer who is picky or unhappy (or just gets bad service from you) is unavoidable for any business; everyone makes mistakes from time to time. It's how you address your mistakes that will set you apart from the competition!
Take time to reach out to customers that leave you negative feedback and address them personally. Let them know that you care about their concerns and you're going to do whatever it takes to fix it. Even if that particular customer is unwilling to change their opinion, you'll be protecting your brand's image as a caring, concerned, and (most importantly) involved company by following up with all of your customer feedback!