How to Keep Customers: Small Business Customer Service and Support

What should you do to keep customers? Give them the best service and support possible. Easier said than done, right?

Finding and winning customers is hard work, but that’s only the beginning. Arguably, amazing customer support experience is the most important thing a business can invest in because the service experience can be both a marketing and sales opportunity. Research has shown that consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that provides outstanding customer service (American Express) and businesses can grow revenues between 4%-8% when they prioritize better customer service experiences. (Bain & Company)

Your customers are your livelihood, so do what it takes to keep them forever once you’ve won them: Offer them outstanding customer service.

The definition of customer service

Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have a great experience with your business. Offering amazing customer service is key to retaining customers and growing your business. It’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to everyone who does business with you.

Why is customer service important to your small business?

Customers want, and expect, a great experience when doing business with you. Great customer support drives an amazing customer experience. From help desk solutions that make it easy for agents to go above and beyond, to self-service offerings for customers who prefer to find answers themselves, winning customer service helps you stand out from the competition.

It’s cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones. Bad customer service is a key driver of churn. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 68% of customers who leave a brand do so because they’re upset with the treatment they've received. Keeping customers by prioritizing customer service can have a big impact on your company’s bottom line.

How does customer service affect your business’ reputation?

The advent of mobile technology and social media has led to an always-on, hyper-connected world. Today’s customers are used to convenience on their own terms. From ride-sharing and food delivery to online shopping with same-day delivery, most everything a person could want is always just a few swipes or taps away.

It’s no surprise, then, that customers expect more from the companies they do business with than they did even just a few years ago. When they don’t get it, consumers are quick to share negative experiences on social media, where stories can spread quickly and do damage to a brand’s reputation.

Happy customers help your reputation.

That said, happy customers post to Twitter and Facebook, too. Take care of your customers and they’ll let others know, generating positive buzz about your business. Companies that become known for positive customer experiences are more likely to benefit from word-of-mouth. Build and protect your brand’s reputation by supporting customers across every channel, and establishing what good customer service looks like internally and externally.

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How do you set up a customer service within your business?

Modern customer service is a combination of hands-on support and giving customers the knowledge and tools they need to help themselves. The details will be different for different businesses — the size of your organization, types of products and services you offer, and whether you do business in person, online, or both are all key factors. But broadly speaking, a successful customer service group combines individualized help with self-service features.

A help desk is the go-to place for customers who need help with your products or services. While help desks can be actual physical places, the term more often refers to a page on your company website or app that’s the starting point for support.

Help desks usually include a ticketing system, which creates a ticket, or case, for each support request. Tickets are used by support reps and customers to track case status, conversations, and other relevant activity. Help desks often also include a self-service system that lets customers search and view FAQs, support articles, how-to videos, and other digital resources to help them resolve their own service needs.

How do you get started with a help desk and ticketing in your business?

You can have a help desk of one, or a team that numbers into the hundreds or thousands. Either way, you need the right tools for the job.

Unless you’re running a brick-and-mortar only retail shop where all customer support is handled in person, help desk software is a great way to organize and manage your service efforts. Help desks drive efficiencies and promote teamwork with shared tracking of open cases and related documents and conversation logs. In turn, team leaders gain insight into what reps are working on, and how they’re going about it.

The software can also use historical case data to give you an overview of how your company resolves cases. highlight the parts of your service org that are killing it, and shine a light on the parts that could use a little more attention.

Fear not, getting started with a help desk is easy. Core functionality like ticketing and teams will get your service org off the ground. From there, you can customize and automate your system to fit the way your business works.

How do you get started with self-service in your business?

Today’s customers love to help themselves. Self-service is how they do it. Self-service means offering customers tools and information so they can find answers to their questions and have a better experience with your products or services. (Self-service is great for employees, too, by the way.)

Starting with self-service in your business can be as small as posting a FAQ page or as big as building a searchable knowledge base and a collection of “How-To” videos. The key is to create useful content and make it easy for both your customers to find and you and your employees to update. You can also offer administrative tools for customers to create accounts, retrieve and update passwords, and access other functionality related to your website and other digital products you might offer.

Download our setup guide to get started building a customer service organization for your small business.

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