It doesn’t matter how many customers your business has or what service or products you supply, great customer service should be your number one priority. At all times. However, small businesses need to be extra vigilant about their service as they don’t necessarily have a brand name and reputation to fall back on. Here are 10 customer service tips you can’t afford to ignore:

1. Experience counts

Make sure your customer experience is spot on from the very first enquiry onwards. Don’t zone out once the sale is complete and don’t be lax in following up and keeping in touch.

2. Make social media work for you

Interaction is key here. Show your customers you are a real person and you think of them as people rather than just potential profit. Feedback, reviews, recommendations and complaints are all very visual and a growing number of people use these platforms as a guide when choosing which company to use. Give the best customer service you can, outshine your competitors and make your clients feel extra special and you will win in this highly competitive arena.

3. Rapid response

Whether it is a letter, email or a comment on your Facebook page ALWAYS respond. And do so in good time. There is no excuse for leaving a question about your product unanswered on your selling site or not replying to an email within day or so. Not bothering to reply promptly looks like you don’t care about your customer. Customers want to feel valued. Make sure you have someone on your team checking your accounts and notifications regularly.

4. Be friendly

Make sure you interact with your followers on social media, talk to your customers, smile if you are customer facing (or even if you are on the phone). Get to know a little bit about them and remember their name and what they have purchased from you. There are various ways you can keep this information including CRMs or spreadsheets but do make sure whichever method is GDPR compliant and you have a data privacy policy in place.

5. £1 or £1000?

Treat all your customers the same regardless of how much they are spending. £10 spent on your product may have been harder to come by for that customer than the £100 or the £1000 another customer spends that day. Remember they have chosen to give their money, however hard earned, to you.

6. Promises promises

Don’t promise what you can’t fulfil. Always promise less and deliver more. Complete the work a bit earlier, add a small packet of sweets or a pen in the delivery box, do a little bit extra for free. All these ensure your customer feels special.

7. Say thank you

Always thank your customer for spending their money with you. Everyone expects an automated ‘thank you for your order’ email but a personal thank you, either as a hand written note in the delivery box or a personal email, goes a long way. What you can stretch to time and money wise will obviously depend on the size of your customer base but remember this is also a good way to ask for feedback and reviews.

8. Listen and acknowledge

Always listen and read feedback. Proactively respond highlighting something specific they mentioned rather than just a standard generic reply. For less favourable feedback ensure you acknowledge the issue and feedback to the customer what steps you will take.

9. Hire people people

Employ those who have high customer service experience and values. All your team members should have the same care and attitude for your clients whether they are standing in front of them, on the phone or miles away buying online.

10. Don’t forget the oldies

Don’t fall for the highly irritating sales ploy some big names go for by giving all the best deals and service to new customers only. Value your existing clients as much if not more. You want them to leave you great feedback, refer you to their friends and buy again. A study by The Nielson Company found people are 4 times as likely to buy something if it is a recommended by a friend. Try a loyalty incentive or a referral scheme with rewards, or ensure you send them details of latest offers earlier than they are advertised – again be clear on GDPR and ensure they have signed up for these type of emails before adding them to any mailing list.