Expert Answers to Biz Questions
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How to Earn a Reputation for Service Excellence
Small businesses need to work hard to keep customers coming back. With so many big companies to compete with, the small business’s advantage is often service-based. Big corporations have a reputation for being uncaring, so when people come to your door, they’re looking for something extra. That’s a tough call for you. You must not only match the performance of bigger organizations - you need to give your clients a better customer experience. Keep these tips for achieving and maintaining service excellence in mind on your journey to success.
1. Always Keep Your Promises
You may have the best intentions in the world, but we all know what the road to hell is said to be paved with. Good intentions are a fine start, but it’s the way you fulfil promises that will be a make-or-break for your customers. Things like choosing reliable couriers and good suppliers will be crucial to your business’s reputation for good service.
Note that both of these services are outsourced and therefore outside your direct control. Although it may seem a little unfair, any failures on their part will be laid at your door. As for the processes you directly control, it's important to ensure that they are aligned with the promises you’ve made.
2. Keep it Personal
Part of the pleasure of dealing with smaller companies is knowing who you will be dealing with and being recognized as an individual. Even the bigger firms are working on this. They use advanced software to track customer interactions so that their customers can feel as if they have some form of recognition.
In smaller businesses, Customer Relations Management (CRM) software can also be useful. But you can go beyond that. For example, the small customer of a big firm can’t expect to have access to the CEO, but in smaller businesses, it’s possible for the owner or manager to be accessible to clients.
Your clients can also build relationships with your salespeople. Do you feel special when you are greeted by name when you enter a local store? Your clients will feel it too.
3. Hire the Right Frontline Staff
Frontline staff are employees who directly interact with clients. While a production-line employee can get away with being a little taciturn, you need friendly and outgoing people to interact with your clients. They should be willing to go the extra mile to help customers, and you should make it easy for them to do so.
Good frontline staff should be able to work under pressure too. Not all customers are “nice” and customer-face need to be able to handle difficult customers and complaints with as much courtesy and aplomb as they handle easier-going customers. The importance of good frontline staff cannot be emphasized enough. No matter how efficient your service is, the people your customers deal with to get it will be the factor that leaves a lasting impression.
Even When You Can’t do More or Charge Less Than Your Competitors, do it Better
Unless what you do is very unique and leaves prospective clients with no alternatives, service excellence is essential to being competitive as a small business in a big business world.
Contrary to popular belief, lower prices aren’t necessarily the deciding factor. A survey published by PwC showed that consumers are willing to pay up to 16 percent more if they know they’ll get excellent, and above all, personal service. As a small business owner, you’re in a unique position to capitalize on that. Don’t miss the opportunity!
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