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|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Improving Online Customer Service
One of the most effective ways small businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty is embracing the power of online customer service.
Effective customer service generates several advantages for your small business, including enhancing customer loyalty and the potential for profitable referrals. You’ll build a stronger reputation (which is especially important for local businesses) and increase your overall revenue as potential customers grow more confident about doing business with your company.
You should view customer service costs as an investment in satisfaction and growth that will pay compelling dividends for your company.
Demonstrate Your Commitment
Effective customer service is so important that your company should demonstrate its commitment to service prominently on your homepage and throughout your website and social media channels.
List commonly asked information such as your hours, location (and links to mapping and directions tools), phone number and email address so customers won’t have to hunt for basic information on their own.
Customers have different preferences for getting in touch with the companies they do business with, so it is helpful to provide several options for reaching you. These often include email, online messaging and even phone calls. And you can make it easy for customers by highlighting your “contact us” page and listing a variety of ways that customers can reach you.
Depending on your customer support needs, a dedicated customer service software platform may be worth considering. Most platforms include team inboxes for service inquiries, ticket generation, a customizable library of response templates, live chat tools, integration with your CRM system and other features. Popular choices in this category include HubSpot Service Hub, Zendeck, Freshdesk and others.
For more basic needs, many phone service providers offer unified communications tools to streamline this process by, for instance, allowing phone calls to be routed to a mobile phone after hours or delivering voice messages to an email inbox.
Similarly, you can help reduce potential customer frustration by spelling out your service tools and response policies, so customers know when they’re likely to hear from you. If, for example, you usually respond to email inquiries within four hours, saying so is more effective than having a customer wait for those four hours wondering if their message reached you.
An email autoresponder is easy to set up and can help provide a nearly instant acknowledgement that your company has received their email, and someone will be in touch within a designated period.
A growing number of customers would prefer not to contact your business at all and appreciate the ability to resolve questions on their own. Some of the most common ways for small businesses to accomplish this is through a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page and a knowledge base.
The FAQ page is a popular tool for listing the types of questions customers tend to ask most often. A knowledge base is a simple database with short articles related to common questions and service issues that your employees and customers can use to look up helpful answers.
Whichever tool or message you choose to support your customer service needs, sending an email or survey after the issue is resolved is an important tool in making sure the customer is satisfied and the problem is truly resolved.
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