If you’re in competition with bigger companies who are able to offer a greater selection of products or services at lower prices, great customer service may well be your secret sauce.

Your customers are at the very core of your business – without them there is no business. It’s therefore in your best interests to keep their best interests front of mind.

There are a lot of really simple but effective ways to improve customer service – read on to learn more…

 1. Make it easy for customers to contact you

If a customer can’t get hold of you when they need to, you could lose them forever. Provide a range of different contact options – from phone to email, social media or Skype – and make sure they always have someone they can reach when they need to.

Being flexible to your customer’s needs not only means that you will be able to respond to them quicker, it also shows that you care, and that is what will keep them coming back.

2. Overcompensate for mistakes

It’s a fact of life – we all make mistakes. Most are small and easily resolved if gone about the right way. Some are small and can cost you your customer, if gone about the wrong way.

In an ideal customer service world, every customer should walk away from a transaction happy. If you or a member of staff makes a mistake, the customer should still walk away satisfied.

The ability to swallow one’s pride, resist the urge to act defensive and accept blame or negative feedback is crucial. Many customers want nothing more than to vent their frustrations. Listen patiently and offer sincere apologies.

3. Allow customers to get to know you

If you don’t have much face-to-face interaction with your customers, it can be hard not to come across as anonymous. Allow your customers to get to know you by adding more of a human face to your interactions with them.

Share staff bios on your website, tell them who made the product that they just bought, include a handwritten note with your delivery or offer to contact them in ways other than just email, such as social media.

Not only will customers feel like they’re dealing with real people (rather than a faceless company), it could also minimize any concerns of trust or accessibility.

4. Offer knowledge

Offer more than just your product or service – arm customers with knowledge too.

Whether it’s explaining how to take the best photograph or telling them about the history behind the antiquated plumbing system they have, if you know a lot about your trade or the products that you sell, use this to your advantage to demonstrate your expertise and help you build stronger relationships with customers.

5. Ask for feedback and follow-up

If you’re looking for ways to improve your service, the first place you should turn to for answers should be your customers. Customer feedback will help you to understand what their needs and interests are so that you can better cater to them.

Ask customers what is and isn’t working for them – their responses might actually surprise you! What’s more, customers like providing feedback, it lets them know that you care about their experience and are looking for ways to improve it.

Put in place a simple process, for example, a personalized follow-up email with a few questions that they might receive after they’ve used your services or received a product. Try to be as personal as possible in your outreach and ensure you acknowledge their response.

If the feedback is negative, outline some definitive solutions/actions. And don’t forget – if the customer is willing to complain to you they’ll have no problem complaining to their friends and family who could be potential customers.

Photo credit: © Carsthets istockphoto.com