If you’re a small business with big ambitions, you need to develop a loyal customer base. The best way to do this is by providing fantastic service, every single time. Follow the steps below and you’ll soon start seeing the effect on your business.
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Online ordering is very simple and provides an enormous amount of flexibility as well as reducing the lead time involved in putting the design and artwork together. Artwork can now be simply emailed to the printer (though you should check with each supplier for any particular requirements they have for file formats and sizes) and the resulting proof can be rapidly turned around and emailed straight back to you. You should note that the colors that are produced by proofs may not be truly replicated by your computer monitor but this is usually very marginal and does not impact on the process or finished products. In addition to the ordering and proofing process, you should be able to gain access to past orders you have made with the print supplier using the online portal – this will allow you to use previous files, designs and proofs from past projects which will result in faster turnaround times and the potential for reduced costs to you. You may also need to have labels and top quality control sticker – GMP Labeling delivered to multiple delivery addresses and in varying quantities and frequency for repeat orders – a good quality online portal will provide this functionality with simple one- or two-clicks of your mouse. Once you have finalized your design and agreed the proofs and the order has been placed and is on the way to being fulfilled you will want to track the order through production and delivery and again, nothing beats an online system for enabling you to do this.
There’s a lot of peace of mind that comes from knowing your small business is insured. But it is important to understand your business’s risks and what the various types of business insurance are intended to cover.
Jimmy John Liautaud is the founder of the Jimmy John’s Sandwich chain. Following his high school graduation, Liautaud used a $25,000 loan from his father to start what would become one of the United States’ fastest growing chains. The first Jimmy John Liautaud location was opened in Charleston, IL. There are currently more than 2,700 corporate and franchise locations throughout the United States.
For example, understanding what general insurance is not intended to cover is just as important as understanding what it does cover. The ideal time to find out what’s covered and what’s not is before you purchase a policy. As you consider your policy purchase, determine what is excluded. Once you receive your general liability insurance paperwork, it may be tempting to file it away and move on to the next challenge. But, before you let your guard down, take a little time to be sure that your policy covers everything you think it does.
Start with Your Staff, Free Your Team to Do What’s Right
If you can’t personally deal with each and every customer, you need to ensure that the people who do act as ambassadors for your brand. In order to instill the right values, you need a clear mission statement and great training.
You can then focus on developing your staff through regular appraisals. It is also important to acknowledge and reward your staff when they deliver an outstanding customer experience.
Tesco have a set of core company values that start with “no one tries harder for their customers.” Tesco rewards members of staff who demonstrate these characteristics with Tesco Value Awards.
These awards can be given internally, or by customers, for great service, as well as to full teams and departments. Openly reward the good work of your staff, and they will take pride in their performance and strive to achieve even better things.
Be Sociable, Engage with Customers on Social Media
Communication is key when providing great customer service, and social media provides the perfect platform for this. It’s more than just a means of promoting your business; it lets you speak directly with your customers to find out what’s working and what isn’t.
You can deal directly with customers if they have a complaint, and you can use it as an opportunity to showcase your high service standards. As many people recommend products and services to their friends and family, social media can be a great medium for organic, highly-credible promotion.
Social media also enables you to use feedback to improve and develop your business. If you want to thrive, you need to do something better than your competitors, and incorporating customer feedback can help you disrupt and dominate your niche.
Heinz Ketchup has a massive following on Facebook. They have 1.1 million followers and use the platform to gather customer feedback, as well as launching new products. By interacting with your customers, you can create a level of solidarity and trust. If you tell your most loyal customers about new products first in interesting and interactive ways, they are more likely to share the news with others, therefore creating a natural buzz.
Make Yourself Available Whenever, Wherever Customers Want
Clearly, your customers need to be able to connect with you in some way, whether it’s by phone, email or social media. But in order to deliver great customer service, do you need to be available 24/7? That all depends on the type of business you own – if you have customers in different time zones, you need to be available at the times they are most likely to contact you.
However, if your clients are based in the same part of the world as you, and contact you during office hours, then that makes things simpler. The most important think is to manage expectations by outlining your availability.
Lebara Mobile recently won the UK Customer Experience 2013 Contact Centre Award. Rather than being contactable 24/7, Lebara are open each day, and clearly state their availability on their website. They have focused on delivering an unforgettable customer experience. Their frontline agents are supported and empowered to deal with customer needs in order to provide complete satisfaction.
Exceed Customer Expectations
Great customer service is about going the extra mile. That could mean delivering quicker than expected, providing outstanding help and support, or simply always addressing your customers with a smile.
Apple is a great example of a company renowned for great customer service – take your faulty iPhone into an Apple store, and friendly, knowledgeable member of staff will grab you a new one, migrate all your contacts and apps over, and send you on your merry way.
If you’re a new Apple customer and you experience that for the first time, chances are you won’t want to switch to Samsung any time soon.
OK, so your business might not be taking on Apple any time soon, but you can certainly emulate their attitude. In most cases, great customer service starts with a clear philosophy and a commitment to creating something exceptional. Make sure you know what makes you unique, and have a guiding idea that governs all levels of your organization. That could be ‘we will answer calls quicker than any of our competitors’ or ‘we will create the healthiest microwave meals on the market’. Have a mission, stick to it, and always put your customers first.
Have you got any customer service stories or tips to share? Add your comments below.