Updated: Dec 14, 2022
No matter the quality of your product, customer service should not be overlooked. Poor customer service can lead to significant customer churn, while those businesses that place an emphasis on providing excellent customer service can often foster a sense of loyalty amongst their customers.
This loyalty can reap many rewards for small business leaders, including increased profits, improved conversion rates, and the ability to remain competitive in the market. As such, business owners should strive for excellence in their customer service efforts.
What is customer service?
Organizations can establish their own interpretation of customer service that is tailored to the values of their company and the level of support they would like to offer clients. As an example, Hristov Development has identified customer service as the timely delivery of quality assistance and support with the strategic flexibility that each client needs.
Customer service is the provision of assistance to customers in both prospective and current capacities. Customer service agents typically handle customer queries via in-person meetings, telephone calls, emails, online chats, and social media platforms and might also be tasked with producing documentation for self-assistance.
Why is customer service important?
Customer service is important for tech companies because it allows them to build trust with their customers and ensure that they are satisfied with their products and services. By providing excellent customer service, IT companies can retain their customers and grow their businesses.
In recent studies, customer service has demonstrated its importance with statistics:
84% of people say that the experience provided by a business is equally important to the product or service they're using.*
1 in 3 consumers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.*
65% of US customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.*
So why exactly is customer service important for small businesses? There are three main reasons:
Which are the results of great customer service?
Who doesn't want a customer satisfied and happy to have found you? When a customer or client is consistently happy with your product and service they become loyal customers. You don't want "one-time" customers. Loyal customers become "clients" that will help you to grow your business in several ways.
They’re around four times more likely to buy from you than a new customer.
They tend to spend more money than new customers.
They're a great source of referrals, which continue to be the highest converting cohort for most businesses.
Customer service is also important for small businesses because it opens a direct line of communication with customers. Those conversations can lead to product breakthroughs and insights — or even reveal a new customer segment you didn’t know existed.
My Company is Small... who is responsible for customer service?
Small businesses must utilize their limited resources wisely and lean teams efficiently in order to provide exemplary customer service.
Despite having fewer resources, these organizations still have the capability to deliver a top-tier experience; they merely need to be more conscientious and strategic in their approach.
In order to accomplish excellent customer service within a small company you will need to work on strategies.
Strategy 1: Do what the big competitors can’t
Small businesses can leverage certain advantages to their benefit over larger companies. Instead of settling for mediocrity, these organizations should exploit the aspects of their size that larger organizations cannot replicate and use them as a competitive edge. Trying to copy from larger competitors will be a titanic task and not as rewarding as giving custom care to each customer.
Tip 1: Efficient internal communication and fast response
Tech companies are increasingly responding to customer service issues quickly, even outside of standard working hours. This is an important step in ensuring customer satisfaction, as customers don't want to be kept waiting for an answer to their queries. One example of this is a company that responded to a customer's email within five minutes of receiving it, even though it was outside of their standard working hours. This demonstrates their commitment to providing the best possible service to their customers.
You don't need to fix the issue in 5 minutes but at least you should let the customer know that you are working on it right away.
Tip 2: Let customers know about your internal processes and timelines
While it is understandable that businesses may not always be able to meet exact timelines due to unforeseen circumstances, customers often experience frustration when deadlines are pushed back. It is important for small companies to ensure they are providing timely and reliable customer service to maximize customer satisfaction.
Be transparent and let the customer know what you are working on and if there's anything you need from them.
A great tool might be to set up a recurrent schedule to share project or product status reports with your client and let them know the progress and roadblocks the team is having.
Strategy 2: Invest in customer service early
Business owners are aware of the importance of investing in specific functions, however, it is often not one of the primary areas of investment due to the tight budget of startups and small businesses. However, you can consider a few tips to maximize the effect of small actions.
Tip 3: Carefully consider which channels you will cover on an ongoing basis.
Pick a few channels to make sure you can cover them equally and efficiently. Some examples are:
Tip 4: Create support documentation for self-service
Self-service options are quickly becoming the preferred customer service method for many tech companies, offering customers the ability to handle their own support needs. These tools also help out the tech company's team, as they regularly reduce support volumes and allow staff to focus on more complex issues or out-of-the-queue projects. Self-service options are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience, cost savings, and speed of service, making them an essential tool for any tech company looking to offer quality customer service. As a plus this allows the technical team to focus on higher-priority tasks or projects.
The content you publish for your customer service should be updated regularly and every time a piece of relevant new information is created.
Tip 5: Keep track of customer conversations and resolved issues
Without proper organization, customers may receive multiple responses from different customer service agents or worse yet, no response at all. This can be incredibly frustrating for customers and lead to a negative experience. To prevent such scenarios from occurring, companies must actively organize their customer service processes to ensure that customers are receiving the attention they deserve.
Having one person in charge of customer service provides a consistent point of contact and allows for better communication between the company and its customers. However, it is also important to enlist the help of other team members when providing customer service, as having a collective effort will result in a better overall customer experience.
Strategy 3: Involve the whole company
Every employee should be expected to provide outstanding customer service, as it helps create a positive and lasting impression that customers can rely on. With this approach, tech companies can ensure their customers will remain satisfied and loyal for years to come.
Tip 6: Encourage the non-support person to think about support issues
An example will be bringing people "outsiders" from areas such as development, quality, and design to a sales call with the salesperson or customer service representative. In this case, the "outsider" will sit and listen to the customer's complaints, requests, and feedback about the product or service, and after the experience will be able to get a better understanding of what issues customers are facing and get new ideas to improve the customer experience.
Tip 7: Report on customer service metrics and insights at company meetings
Having clear metrics in place for customer service is essential for tech companies. This should be done internally and kept as a standard for service performance. The metrics should be set to ensure that the customer experience is the best it can be and that any customer support issues are rectified satisfactorily and promptly.
Voice of the Customer (VoC) Reports are an essential tool for measuring customer sentiment, providing valuable insights that can be used to improve customer service and demonstrate a commitment to customer satisfaction. VoC Reports provide data that is more qualitative in nature, allowing companies to gain a better understanding of the overall sentiment among their customers.
Providing quality customer service is an important part of any tech company's success. It's important to be honest with customers about what is and isn't working, while also recognizing that some things may not work as expected. It's normal to have to trial and error when it comes to customer service, however, it's important to limit the time and energy spent on things that do not work. This will enable companies to focus on the methods that do work, giving customers the best experience possible.