Managing customer service is a huge task for all businesses. If you are a small business owner and you are your customer service team then I bet you get 100 messages asking things like – 'when will I get my delivery', 'my package was damaged', 'the size doesn't fit me', 'I want a refund', 'how can I track my order', etc.
When you get so many messages and cannot respond to them or fulfill your orders on time then customer service acts as a hindrance in running a smooth business. But it is a crucial element in gaining customer loyalty and trust, returning customers, and attracting new customers. Let's dive into what customers expect from customer service first.
What do customers expect from modern customer service?
- Quick responses – ability to communicate effectively
- Being able to talk to real people in real-time rather than a bot
- Polite and friendly behavior
- A quick exchange and refund services
- Readiness to solve customer issues
- Hassle-free solutions
Fundamentals of customer service
To deliver excellent customer service these are the fundamentals-
1. Understand your customer – understand their age, gender, and culture and respond to them accordingly. For example, young customers might be aggressive when they complain, you have to keep your calm and talk to them logically.
2. Well-equipped service staff – your customer service team should know in and out about your products, services, and policies. If they are unaware, it reflects negligence.
3. Track performance and adapt- with changing times customer service also have to adapt according to the new needs. Try to record calls or ask your customers for feedback and track the performance of your staff or yourself. this way you will know where your strong points are and where you are lacking.
What if customer service is not up to the mark?
You will lose out on potential customers; existing customers might cancel or ask for a refund for their orders if they are not satisfied with your customer service.
Customer service at big e-commerce companies
Big e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart have thousands of call centers all across the globe. They appoint managers who oversee customer service. Standard protocols are set, calls are recorded and customer feedback is taken. Hence, if any employee misbehaves or doesn't work up to the mark they get easily identified.
Employees are also trained on how to efficiently manage customers.
How should small businesses manage their customer service?
Businesses that can hire people should create a customer service team. This delegation of responsibility will reduce the pressure on you. You can set the protocols for the team and oversee them.
But those who can't hire you can ask for the help of your family members. In today's world, many young adults aged 18-25 have started their small businesses. If you are one of them then this tip is for you!
You can ask your siblings or parents to be your customer service executive. You can set up a laptop in which you install your website portal or any platform through which customers reach out to you.
On your website, you can set up a bot too that can answer standard customer service questions. But do keep an option of calling or messaging you directly. Many businesses make the mistake of not keeping a direct call option. This hinders customers from buying as they don't trust the company.
Email communication is also a way of customer service but mostly it is used by clients abroad as they cannot call you directly. If customers stay in the same country a call or WhatsApp message is preferred over email as email response takes at least 24 to 48 hours.
What if you don't have any help and cannot hire either?
No need to worry. In that case, you need to divide your time judiciously between production and customer service. You can tell your customers that they can contact you within a specific period for example 6 pm-8 pm. Apart from these 2 hours they cannot call you for customer service.
Managing orders is easy as your website or online store does that for you.
Still managing orders through Instagram and WhatsApp messages!
I'd say you are making life difficult for yourself by doing that. Keeping track of all the orders, addresses and payment are difficult via messages. But on a website store, you don't need to worry about a thing.
A website keeps track of all your orders and customer details, it acts as a portal for payment so every customer has to pay to confirm their order. If you provide COD then you can give a COD option. But if you are a small business my advice is to avoid COD as many times customers don't accept the orders at their doorstep and it gets returned to you.
Always take advance so that the customers also stay accountable.
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