Small businesses are at a disadvantage to their larger competitors in terms of market penetration, marketing budget, economics of scale, access to capital, etc.  The ability to provide exceptional customer service is an area small businesses have to capitalize on… but unfortunately, many small businesses provide even worse service that their larger competition.  Customer service needs to be a top priority for yourself and each of your employees.  Below are several ways to take your customer service up a notch:

  1. Invest in service-oriented employees.  Customer service is done by people.  If your people don’t enjoy serving customers, don’t have a good attitude, or have poor “people skills,” you can’t expect them to give great service.  Emphasize the importance of customer service when you’re hiring and make sure that all of your employees that come in contact with your customers have the ability and the desire to make your customers happy.
  2. Learn about your customers.  If you have repeat clients and customers, make an effort to get to know them (this goes for you and your employees.)  People love to be recognized, and by connecting with them you greatly increase the chances that they will remain loyal in the future.
  3. The customer may not ALWAYS be right… but the customer is almost always right.  Sure, every business owner will occasionally encounter a customer that is ridiculous.  But your mindset still needs to be “do whatever it takes to make each customer happy.”  Give your customers the benefit of the doubt –  don’t risk losing a valuable customer over a trivial disagreement.
  4. Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers.  As the boss, you set the tone.  If you start each day by yelling at your staff and cursing up a storm, how can you expect them to be pleasant with your customers?
  5. Make customer service part of your company culture.  Every company has a customer service policy that says all of the right things.  But how many of them incorporate those principles into their daily routine?  Find ways to make it a recurring topic, for instance, start each meeting by asking everyone to share a recent example of exceptional service they provided.  Keep the focus on customer service and you’re guaranteed to improve in that area.

You must excel at customer service if you want your business to reach its full potential.  And to excel, you need to make it a priority for you and for your staff.  I’ve shared some ideas to get you started… now go make it happen!