Why Great Customer Service Is Essential To Home Businesses
We've all been there: a problem arises with a product or service that we've bought, and we want to get it sorted out.
Sometimes the customer service we get is great - the company or individual apologises profusely for your hassle and gets on the case immediately.
Others leave you wanting; either you can't get through to them in the first place or when you do, the response you get is lacklustre, to say the least.
I’ve been visiting my local pub out here in the English countryside for around the last 10 years.
Although it’s seen many changes over that time - such as the addition of a WiFi box - some things have remained the same - and that’s the way I like it.
I still walk in to warm, genuine greetings from the staff and my drink has been poured before I’ve even removed my coat. If there was ever a problem - perhaps an extra drink added to my bill by mistake - it wouldn’t matter, because I know they’d sort it out.
I know them, they know me - it feels comfortable and familiar.
The pub’s prices are not cheap. If I bothered to go a further ten minutes down the road, I could pay around 25% less than I do at my local, but I don’t, because I don’t get the same level of customer service. The way I see it, the extra 25% is worth it, in case I ever have a problem with something.
Given the number of “regulars” I see in there, I’m clearly not alone in thinking this.
A Personalised Customer Service
The point I’m trying to make, is that the pub has changed over the years to accommodate its customers’ needs, but it hasn’t lost any of its personality or appeal. Being a home business, it’s still able to offer its patrons a personalised service – something customers have always wanted and still do.
Larger competitors such as pub chains, tend to be able to offer customers better prices or various incentives and reward schemes. However, they also typically experience a higher turnover of staff, meaning the feeling of familiarity I mentioned earlier, is non-existent.
Furthermore, it’s not unrealistic to expect the level of service to be poorer if the staff member has no emotional ties to their customers or their employers.
I’ve chosen pubs as an example, as it’s an industry many of us will be familiar with, but you can expand the analysis across virtually any business sector. Giant companies such as Amazon and Google, arguably market leaders in their different fields, have both pumped a lot of their money and resources into improving their customer service in recent years and yes, truth be told, it’s generally very good.
But you still pick up the phone and speak to a customer service representative who reads from a script and has no personality to speak of. They’ll probably solve your problem, but the whole process is scripted and it feels like they’ve got a response designed for every possible thing you might say. If you ever do manage to catch them off guard, the result can be quite amusing - as they panic when challenged to think for themselves.
Hear What Your Customers Say
This brings me to the point of my article.
As larger companies are generally lacking in the customer service department, it is imperative that smaller companies seize upon this and make customers their priority.
Experience has shown that there is no standardised solution that can be applied, but the answer to good customer service comes down really to one simple thing...
You need to try and find out what the client really wants (not what they think they want, which on many occasions, can be very different). Once you fully understand the client’s challenge, then you can help. Each of your clients should ideally get a personalised, one-to-one service - and that could make the difference as to whether they come back or not.
I believe it’s because, even in this day and age, where service speed is paramount and attention spans are low, people want to be treated like individuals as much as they ever did.
Just like me in my local pub.
Jonathan Rae works for Business Lists UK.
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