SCORE

What can your small business do better than your larger competitors?

Serve your customers. The secret to success in this area: anticipating their needs and being ready and willing to interact with them.

Our latest infographic, “Happy Customers: A Win for Small Businesses!” examines the ways that customer service is coming to the forefront of the small business experience.

More than ever, consumers value personalization, prompt service, and quick conflict resolution when they do business with small companies.

Customer experience is predicted to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020, according to a 2013 report on B2B companies by Walker Information. Customers expect personalized experience and proactive resolutions to their current and future needs. Eighty percent of Americans believe smaller companies place more emphasis on customer service than larger ones, and three out of five Americans said they’d try a new brand or company if it meant they’d get better customer service.

Customer satisfaction is key to retention

Small businesses are already paying attention to their customers’ needs. Forty-three percent of small business owners say improving customer experience and retention is their top strategy to improve revenue growth. Retaining customers is a huge challenge, but it’s an important one to approach: it’s six to seven times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep existing customers. Resolving customer issues the first time you engage with them can help you avoid losing more than two-thirds of those customers.

Not only will satisfied customers be more loyal — they’re also willing to share their positive experience with six or more people. They’ll exchange that service for higher prices, too.  Fifty-five percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience, and 86 percent of consumers would pay more for an “upgraded” experience.

Phone calls are still important in 2017

In our digital world, an old-fashioned tool still gets the customer-service job done: the telephone. Forty-five percent of customers think a phone call is the most effective way to get a problem resolved. Social media and email support can be helpful in many cases, but they don’t replace the personal interaction of a phone call.

Eighty percent of customers surveyed by Accenture would rather solve an issue with a person than via digital channels. Resist the urge to set up a complex phone tree to direct calls; instead, customers want a real person to hear their needs immediately. That attention combined with personable, personalized customer service will foster loyalty among your customers.

Meet with a SCORE mentor to learn more ways to improve your small business customer service experience. There is always room for improvement, no matter the age of your business!