Customer service may be a universal term, but it does not have universal definition. Oftentimes that difference in the definition is based on the size of the businesses. So let’s look at what the Davids and Goliaths of the business world can learn from each other.
Most small businesses are about client relationships. Relationship building is vitally important to small businesses because they don’t have large budgets for advertising and marketing; so when they get a customer, they must whatever they can to develop relationships with and keep those customers.
Next, small businesses typically have personnel who are easy to get a hold of. If you have a question or you need something, you’re typically no more than a couple conversations away from talking to the company president. When you call in, you’re often talking to somebody who has a vast knowledge of the entire operations as well.
Finally, small businesses work extremely hard to quickly resolve issues – to keep that customer. Keep in mind that customers – based on many national studies – have a much higher likelihood of repurchase if issues are resolved and resolved quickly.
Large businesses need to do likewise. They need to focus on relationship building, not just transaction closing. They need to make it easy for customers to get an answer to a question. And they need to have dedicated resources who can jump on issues when they arise.
But small businesses can also learn from large businesses.
For example, large organizations who are great at customer service have strategies on how to manage customer data, track information on customer utilization of products and services, and retain and grow with those clients.
Large organizations also measure a great deal. They want to know how the customers feel, so they do customer satisfaction surveys. They want to understand what the customer experience is like, so many do mystery shopping. They measure issue resolution rates and helpdesk inquiries.
Many large businesses also focus heavily on alignment. They have accountabilities in place for when staff fall short of expectations as well as incentives so that employees will have some reason to exhibit the behaviors with customers that will actually achieve the organizational goals.
Small businesses need to do likewise. They need customer retention and growth strategies. They need to track customer satisfaction, issues, and other factors so they can make data-driven decisions to continuously improve their customer service. And they need accountability and incentive pieces in place to align behaviors of staff with organizational goals.
To improve customer service performance, sometimes it helps to look at the nimbleness and personalized characteristics of the small business as well as the structure and data-driven orientation of the large business.
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