What Customer Service Can Do For Your Small Virtual Business
Significance of Customer Service in Virtual Businesses
After the long process of figuring out the dos and don’ts in the evolving world of online business, you’ve managed to wade through the discouragements and are now running a profitable enterprise. Congrats! More than likely you now have clientele of some sort, hopefully the loyal kind. So how do you assure their allegiance? With outstanding customer service, that’s how!
The vitality of strong consumer support is nothing new to report. You, as a consumer, know the value of keeping customers satisfied. For example, think back to the absolute worst restaurant service you’ve ever experienced.
- Consider what made that a bad experience. Between you’re server taking forever and not caring enough to update you on delays with your food, to the manager who must’ve put their two weeks in because they certainly didn’t show any compassion for your particular situation, you never returned. Maybe there were chances when the staff could’ve turned the experience around for you, but they missed every one of them.
- Now think about your favorite eatery. You’re greeted with a smile as soon as you enter, your server is swift and thorough, and the owner stopped by not because they had to, but because they want to acknowledge your patronage. The employees of this establishment made sure to aim for every shot they had at putting a smile on your face, and they succeeded because you went back the following week.
Simply put, terrible service loses potential money while a little t.l.c. goes far for future potential returning clientele.
Companies That Thrive or Die due to Customer Service
Learn from others when it comes to the good, bad and ugly of customer service. While certain industries, such as health care and telecommunication, tend to lag in customer service, fields, like retail, food service and internet based companies, grow vigorously because of the attention they give to their consumers.
- Amazon, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks (names I’m sure you recognize) top the Temkin Customer Service Ratings, a research company that bases it’s rankings from surveying consumers. They score big points for accessibility and compassionately handling complaints. It’s definitely not that these companies don’t make mistakes; it’s that they fix them. That’s why you know their names.
- According to another consumer based survey site, Customer Service Scoreboard, Whole Foods made it to the bottom of the list for providing ineffective customer service while Publix, a well known, competitor, gleams across from it in the top 5 of the best list. Living in the age of “reviews over everything” and unlimited competition, consider how much this affects decision making in where you grocery shop.
Customer Service Necessities for your Virtual Business
Use social media as a customer service outlet.
Social media is possibly your greatest asset in running a successful virtual business. Handling customers concerns in a timely manner is everything and sites like Twitter and Facebook provide a channel for you to do just that. Follow up is easy, especially with the ability to receive instant notifications to your phone. Also, you’ll have a chance to mention your brand in an arena where others can witness your company’s promptness and personal concern for it’s customers. Plus, it’s costless, a definite advantage when you’re just starting out.
Track every customer experience.
Since there is definitely context lost in typed words with no face attached, simply using social media is not enough. After any interaction with a customer, make sure to follow up. Every time. You need to ensure that each customer feels heard. This is how you achieve consistency in the eyes of the people who spend money with you and get those dollars to return. Try generating surveys using sites like SurveyMonkey (another freebie) as a way to ensure that every concern is laid to rest finally and to gauge the perception of your company post initial client interaction.
Outsourcing with a virtual assistant.
Virtual businesses, meet virtual assistants. Besides being able to help with heaps of work, like scheduling and travel arrangements, virtual assistants can help with an array of tasks. The entire point of starting your own business was so you could have more time to yourself, right? Well, there is an affordable way to staff your operation. Try using a reasonably priced service such as Aide-de Camp or TaskBullet. Sure, you have to shell out some cash, but it is well worth it for the stress you’ll be able to divert. Also, hiring a virtual assistant provides more free time to your schedule, the most appealing part of being an entrepreneur.
Online consumers demand immediate and gratifying attention for every need that arises. Whether you have an extra few dollars to shell out for help or are a one-person operation who needs all the dimes they can save (for now), you can’t afford to lose business due to lack of customer service. You will do excellent as long as you remember to strive to be like the restaurant with your favorite server, not the “terrible restaurant that we’re never going back to” that you tell all your friends about.