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Customer Service Tips for the New Year

It's almost a new year. Just like last year, the customer is still always right. The first of many times I heard that, I was working for a popular retail store in a mall as a teenager. That saying carried over to my barista job and waitressing jobs, guided me through my internship, and still sticks with me now in the professional working world. It’s a tried and true saying for good reason. Having a loyal customer base, especially for a small business, is gold. Small businesses work hard to attract customers and it is important to work just as hard to keep them with good costumer service. Maintaining great relationships with customers, through good times and also when things go terribly wrong, is essential to your businesses’ success. Below are five customer service tips for small businesses.

Social media platforms are your friend
Using social media platforms allows for everyday communication with consumers, and can be a great place to provide a higher level of customer service. Does Yelp ring a bell? It will with your customers.  Customer reviews on social media sites can sometimes make or break a company. Providing your customers with the option to connect with you through social media gives them the ability to offer feedback, and offers you the ability to quickly respond to fix problems or answer questions.

Keep track and have a plan.
Listen—really listen, and keep track of both complaints, and positive customer feedback.  Keeping track of customer complaints can allow you to both better understand where the problem may be rooted, and help to identify any patterns. The better understanding you and your staff have of what is going wrong, the better and more quickly you can fix it. In addition to keeping track, it is helpful to have a customer service “playbook”.  If you develop a plan for different types of situations ahead of time, it will be easier and less pressure when a problem arises. There is nothing worse than a customer making a complaint, and then not hearing back from the business in a timely fashion. These days everything is wanted and needed instantly, and on many levels customers expect instant gratification and for their problem to be fixed quickly.  Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and the solution to a customer issues is sometimes out of your hands. The next best thing is getting back to the customer as quickly as possible, offering a solution if possible, and providing an accurate timeframe in which the issue will be resolved.

Be accessible
In addition to utilizing social media platforms to address issues with customers, it is important to have a “contact us” section displayed somewhere highly visible on your website. A contact number, email, address, social media links, and even an after-hours contact number should all be included.

Stay calm- because the customer is always right
Okay, so the customer IS wrong, and on top of that is not being very nice about whatever the issue may be. Stay cool, calm, and collected, but show genuine concern for the customer’s problem. Leave the “I told you so” attitude out.  We all have bad days, and it may be they are just taking theirs out on you.  At the end of the day, a happy customer means a happy business.

Tech Tools
Customer service toolsets such as Zendesk exist, use them.

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