It used to be that keeping a small or midsize business (SMB) healthy simply entailed selling the right product at the right price. But in recent years customer expectations have grown, and today that model is not only outdated—it’s potentially disastrous. If you’re only focused on your product you might be neglecting customer sentiment, which can lead to big-time losses in potential income.
Customer strategist Esteban Kolsky recently pointed out that for every customer you hear complaining, as many as 25 more are silently switching away from your business. As for the efficacy of your more vocal detractors, Nielsen has reported that 66 percent of Internet users read and trust online consumer opinions. If your business is going to continue to succeed, you need to start paying very close attention to how your customers feel about your products.
The news isn’t all bad though. A healthy customer service strategy can do a lot to increase your business and strengthen your position in the marketplace. Here’s how:
1. Stand out from the crowd. Today’s customers are spending time on due diligence. Ninety-four percent of B2B customers and as much as 75 percent of retail customers state that they do some form of online research before making a purchase. When they do contact you, these highly informed folks want your sales team to know more about your products or services than they could find out online. In the realm of retail, 29 percent of customers that change companies do so because of a lack of staff knowledge.
You can curb this loss of business by creating a unified knowledge base for your staff. By constantly adding to this database, you’ll have the very best data at everyone’s fingertips when customer needs arise. You can even share your answers and in-depth information directly with online customers through self-service channels.
2. Win and keep customers. According to an Accenture report, two out of every three customers worldwide change providers due to poor customer service. Eliminate key stress points like unnecessary call transfers and requiring customers to repeat their contact information, and you’ll be sure to start every customer relationship off on the right foot.
Go a step further by saving each customer’s data, current issues, and service history to a profile. By giving your sales, marketing, and service representatives access to these individual customer records, you’ll be able to treat repeat customers like the old friends they are to your business.
3. Expand your business. Eighty-three percent of customers trust recommendations from their friends, and 72 percent will share a good experience with half a dozen people. Those numbers are hard to beat, and they’re why retaining a loyal customer base is so important.
Identify your best and most influential customers, treat them with kindness, and make sure they stick around—and you’ll have a trusted marketing resource.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help you up your customer service game. If you’d like to know more about how a CRM solution could work for your business, check out the SMB Group e-book, How to know if your business is ready for CRM.