It’s pretty much understood that in the world of small business, a lot depends on what your customers think. More importantly, you’ve got to keep them happy. And this means more than just having bubbly voices on the other end of the support line. Let’s explore a few ways to expand service, bump up quality, and increase loyalty.

Make it easy

How simple is it for a customer to reach you? Think about it. It seems like a no-brainer, but the worst thing (and something that certainly starts really accelerating frustrations) is getting lost when you’re looking for assistance. A customer that needs your help doesn’t need to click through a million pages, despite how awesome they may be with all that parallax, to find you.

Make your contact information easy. Post it right on your homepage and, perhaps, again on a dedicated contact page. List it on your products, your collateral, your communications. Shout it from the rooftops – and all over social. Be sure that your toll-free support line, live chat, and social media support mavens are all responsive. The simpler the better. Avoid tons of menus and options. Think about what you’d want as a customer, if you had a problem that needed solving.

Be consistent

Recently, I had an issue with inconsistent service. It didn’t oscillate from the grumbles of an ornery gremlin-like creature to the cascading melodies of some perky support cherub, no. It was that no one really knew their information, so it changed every time I talked to someone. Every single person I spoke to was friendly and helpful, but they all “helped” me in a different way so I ended up having no idea what I was doing. And I was absolutely sick of talking to customer support reps by the end.

I was attempting to exchange a faulty tablet I had ordered. I might never have known that things were so confusing, if only I’d not had an issue getting UPS to pick it up. But I did, so I needed to call the merchant back to clarify some things. The second person told me a new story, so then I had to call back and confirm again, where a new person told me another story, and so on. Kind of a nightmare.

We only allow the tablet to be picked up by the UPS carrier, who will supply you a label at that time. You cannot drop it off at the UPS store, nor can we give you the label any other way like email.

Why didn’t you just drop the tablet off at the UPS store?

You’re going to need to create a label, UPS can’t collect something without a label, you know.

You won’t need any numbers or information included in the box. Simply use a blank box with the tablet inside.

You will need to include this case number, written on the side of the box, or we can’t figure out what this return is for.

What? I ended up having no clue how their return process worked because I got a different answer from each representative. Now I have to return in at the bricks-and-mortar because I happen to be visiting my hometown in a couple of weeks. A nice coincidence that hopefully works. Otherwise, I’ll be tearing my hair out, which I just highlighted for the summer.

The lesson? Train each of your representatives with an established protocol and consistent information that still allows for some flexibility and creativity. It’s about striking a balance. Yes, you probably want your people to be able to “bend some rules” and “think on the fly,” but you don’t want misinformation and confusion. (Of course, it looks like there’s a big omni-channel lesson here too, but we can leave that for later.)

Expand your toolkit

Ah, here’s the omni-channel lesson. That popped up quicker than I anticipated. In my example, the merchant really could have used a few updates. If they could have emailed me a return label, things would have been much easier. Perhaps they needed internal technological advances as well, so each representative could have been able to tell what the other one had just told me. Either way, more tools to help customers with a seamless support experience are just flat out required nowadays.

Think of what you’re lacking. Is it dedicated social media support? Hotline hours and capabilities? Cross-channel technology and management? Wherever you think the weakness is, work to resolve it. Explore new options and ideas to boost your customer experience.

These are just three quick tips to help you keep customers happy through your dedicated support system. Can you think of any other ideas? Share in the comments below!

Photo credit: Cuba Gallery

 

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