Customer service is a skill which all of us can learn and improve upon.
It is said that the main reason for customer churn is not price, but bad customer service. Many unhappy customers simply don’t return, especially in today’s world where there are plenty of alternatives and choices available. On the other hand, happy customers can help your business grow, as they tend to purchase more and refer others through valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
At Tax Agility, we are small business accountants in London and we help other small businesses to grow through exceptional accounting services. If you have worked with us, you know that we diligently take care of the accounting and bookkeeping duties, along with providing solid tax advice and payroll administration, leaving you time to focus on running the business.
We are also keen to share tips that can help small business owners like us. So in this article, we shall take a look at the principles that underpin customer service and discuss how to deliver excellent customer service.
Principles of good customer service
Every business has some ideas on how to provide good customer service. Generally, they centre around:
- Listening to your customers – finding out what they consider to be good customer service and what they expect from you.
- Understanding that customer service is a process – it exists in all aspects of your business and every interaction is an opportunity to show your professionalism.
- Following up with both positive and negative feedback – resolving the issues quickly and amicably, without getting emotional, will win you respect.
- Being honest – if you don’t understand how a product works or if you can’t troubleshoot, let them know and find another solution for them.
- Practising empathy – putting yourself in their shoes when addressing their concerns.
Delivering good customer service
After speaking to small business owners who excel at customer service, we are able to categorise the three aspects needed to deliver good customer service. They are commitment from you the business owners, a good understanding of how your customers expect you to meet their needs, and an effective customer service program to help you deliver. When all the three aspects are working cohesively, you will create a virtuous cycle that can yield a string of positive outcomes.
Commitment from you
If you are fully committed to customer service, you will hire like-minded individuals, foster a service culture, empower your staff to take ownership, recognise and reward their work, and provide adequate training. You want happy staff who will go out of their way to give the customers what they want and deliver when they want it, in the best possible way.
Having a positive attitude goes a long way too. Remember to:
Smile: Someone said that a smile alone doesn’t guarantee good customer service, but good customer service almost always starts with a smile.
Take initiatives: Go up to the customers and ask if they need assistance or suggest complementary products, if you run a brick and mortar business.
Be patience: Some customers may require more time to convey what they want or what is wrong with the product purchased. Take time to understand, clarify if needed, and always offer genuine help.
Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’: When you say please, you are showing respect; and when you say thank you, you are showing gratitude. Small business owners who value their customers use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ regularly.
Know what your customers expect from you
Every customer has a unique perception as to what customer service means to them. The level of service they expect also varies from one provider to another. For example, they may expect a no-frill service from a discount store, but more personalised service from a close-contact provider like a hairdresser, a sports therapist and a tailor. If you don’t yet know what your customers want from you (and your business), it is time to start talking to them and gathering feedback.
Creating a customer service program
An effective customer service program should contain three things – it should define the level of customers service your business wants to provide at every interaction, describe the necessary steps to achieve it, and methods to sustain the program.
Here are a few examples:
- Your business receives a fair amount of calls and you want your staff to answer them within the first three rings, use a greeting message, and remain professional throughout.
- You want your staff to take the initiative and suggest complementary products to customers – like a pack of rechargeable batteries to go with an electronic gadget.
- Your business may receive a bad review on social media from time to time. When it happens, your staff will contact the unhappy customer quickly (hopefully within the same business day). The process will see them investigate the issue, acknowledge when there is a mistake, and seek to resolve the issue with the customer amicably.
Don’t forget your staff
As a small business owner, you know the importance of hiring and retaining staff who are as committed as you. So it makes sense to invest in training and equip them with the appropriate skills and knowledge to help you meet your business goals.
It is equally important to recognise and reward staff who put in the hard work. Some recognition could be spontaneous – whenever you see them do a good job, thank them personally. On the other hand, planned recognition could involve a monetary or non-cash incentive when they reach certain targets, or when they consistently offer a high level of service to your customers.
Data protection and your business
If your business collects and stores customer information, you must understand the legal requirements regarding what you can do with the information. The data protection rules state that you must make sure the information is kept secure, accurate and up-to-date. When you collect their personal data, you must also tell them who you are and how you will use their information (and if you intend to share the information with another organisation). You must also inform them that they have a right to:
- See any information you hold about them and correct if it is wrong
- Request to have their data deleted
- Request their data is not used for certain purposes
Good customer service will help you grow
Your happy customers will undoubtedly come back to buy more and recommend others to you through word of mouth referrals. They can generate more sales for you, which in turn will feed a positive loop and produce more favourable results.
At Tax Agility, we know the importance of good customer service because most of our clients come through referrals, from other small business owners who are very happy with our accounting, bookkeeping, tax and payroll services. If you are a new client, you will know that our approach is to understand you first – including your business objectives and financial circumstances – only then we can suggest how to assist you.
You also have the freedom to choose the level of engagement you want from us – for instance, you may need us to manage bookkeeping for now, give you tax advice when you need money to invest, add payroll when your team expands, and use our management consultancy service when you are ready to grow. All of our services are competitively priced with no hidden charges, and our small business accountants are always here to assist.
Call us today on 020 8108 0090.
Alternatively, you can use the contact us form to get in touch.
- Accounting & Bookkeeping: leave your day-to-day finances to us. We will also provide monthly management accounts, prepare statements and help you set-up cloud accounting.
- Tax: if you are tax-efficient, you will have more money to invest, expand and create jobs in your community. Let us help you with tax planning, tax computation and tax returns.
- VAT: from VAT returns to manging VAT on import and export goods, we take care of them so you don’t have to.
- Payroll: as your team grows, outsource your payroll administration to us so that you and your team can continue to enjoy accurate and on-time payslips every month.
- Management consultancy: take your business forward with practical advice based on financial data and benchmark analysis.
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- Small Business: Planning and optimising your workforce
- Small Business: The benefits of long-term planning
- Small Business: The benefits of networking
- Small Business: How to attract investors
- Small Business: Use technology to your advantage
- Small Business: 5 ways to get new customers
This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.