Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
This only holds true if you take the time to grasp the lesson they’re trying to teach you. When you’re starting a business, providing customer service might not be top of mind – after all, there are so many other things you need to do. However, customer service matters quite a bit. Read on to learn whether your customer service is great, or if it needs serious improvements.
A BIT OF BUSINESS ADVICE: THE CUSTOMER COMES FIRST
Julie just started a pet grooming business. She’s hired talented groomers who have a great rapport with the animals they service. When it comes to their owners, that’s another story. Some of Julie’s groomers aren’t good at making eye contact. Others are downright rude to pet owners, while others are just somewhat unfriendly.
When Julie hired her staff, she was only concerned with whether they could groom animals effectively and efficiently. She didn’t care how they interacted with other humans, and she didn’t provide any sort of customer service training to ensure that pet owners had a pleasant experience and wanted to come back to Julie’s company. Her grooming business has trouble keeping clients, and former customers frequently write negative reviews online about her shop.
TREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE AS A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Evan took his dog to Julie’s grooming shop twice. He hoped the second time would be better than the first, and he was disappointed. Evan treated the incident as a learning experience for his own business, a coffee store.
He decided that when he hired every employee, they would go through customer service training. Evan’s customer service training only lasts a day, though. And he never reinforces it with follow-up.
Evan assumes that once his employees learn about how to provide good customer service, they’ll put those principles into practice. Very few of his staffers internalized the message. The majority of them treat customers at the book store the same way Julie’s groomers do. As a result, they miss out on business opportunities, and shoppers leave the store disappointed with the experience.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE DIGITAL REALM
You might be reading this and say, “Well, I’ve got online business ideas. I’m never going to interact with my customers face to face. So, I don’t need to make customer service a priority.” That mindset will not serve you well when starting your own business online.
Let’s say you decide to open an online store that sells women’s handbags. Customers ooh and ah over your products, but when it comes time to buy, you’ve noticed that your sales numbers are much lower than you expected. Here’s a question for you: have you ever tried to buy one of your handbags through your online store? If you had, you would have discovered that your shopping cart doesn’t function properly. Your customers quickly become frustrated and abandon the transaction.
You hold a sale, hoping to attract customers. There are a couple of problems, in addition to your user-unfriendly shopping cart. Your ad doesn’t give shoppers a clear idea of how much you’re discounting products until they look at your site. When they get there, they discover that the bags they really want are only 5% off, while the least popular products are cheaper (although not by much).
Whether your business start-up is bricks-and-mortar or only online, the level of customer service you provide determines your venture’s success. Without people to buy your product or service, you won’t survive. Make customer service a priority and reap the rewards.
NEED SMALL BUSINESS HELP?
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