How to improve your customer service
Service quality can have a significant impact on the success, reputation and growth of your business. That’s why it’s important to continually try to improve it. Here are a few ways to help you achieve better customer service in a small business.
Offer your employees education and training
Providing your staff with ongoing training and education is one of the best ways to keep them skilled up so they can carry out their work confidently.
Customer service can often be negatively impacted by staff who:
- Simply aren’t aware of some of your business practices
- Don’t have sufficient information to handle customer queries properly
- Are stressed.
Induction training about your key policies and procedures is the first step to ensuring staff are informed. This simply means making sure all staff know how your business works and what their role is. It helps to produce a training manual that can be referenced by staff, and include escalation processes for unhappy customers. This can be as simple as writing down what your refund policy is, or when to escalate a complaint to you.
Don’t just train your staff once and leave it at that. Even short education sessions on topics like how to use technologies or trends in your business will give your team the opportunity to learn and ask questions. This will translate into better customer service on the shop floor and in your workplace.
For example, restaurant wait staff who have had a tasting session of a new menu are more likely to offer suggestions and speak confidently of the dishes to diners. Shop assistants in a fashion retail store will benefit from knowing the latest colour and style trends so they can support customer decision making.
Providing staff with printed or online resources, and making yourself available for support will also help staff implement what they have learned.
Listen to (and learn) from your customer feedback
As a business owner, customer feedback is an untapped wealth of insights into both what you are doing well, and what you could be doing better.
Consider the following:
- Online reviews
- In-store feedback
- Comments on your business’s social media
These are just some of the ways customers communicate how they feel about your business and their experiences of it.
Look for common themes in any negative feedback, and explore potential ways to address these issues. For example, if the online feedback about your floristry is that it takes you too long to respond to online queries, assign one of your staff to manage online queries and ensure they are messaging back with a pre-approved response.
As a business owner, be sure to take the time to ‘audit’ your online reviews and comments. It’s imperative that you track these comments and themes via monthly report so you can keep on top of feedback. Respond to it all, with either a thank you or an apology. Ignoring social feedback can be compared to ignoring a customer in your store –you should never do it.
Understand your staff’s strengths
Different employees have different strengths. Understanding what these are will help you move your staff into roles where they can excel. Happy staff are more likely to provide excellent customer service. Keep an eye on your staff and observe their behavior to see if you can work out their strengths and weaknesses,
Create open channels of communication via ad hoc discussions and regular 1:1 reviews so you can discuss your staff member’s strengths and weaknesses with them. This sounds onerous but it’s really as simple as making time to talk about their performance – and your expectations – at least once a month.
For example, you may have someone who is very efficient in managing online orders within your clothing store. Speak to them about perhaps moving off the floor and into a more digital role.
Central to customer service is recognizing it is wholistic, not something that ends with the sale. Work with your staff to ensure every customer is given the best possible experience. You want them to come back, and you want them to recommend your business to their family and friends.
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