Want to Win The Competition For Customers?


Want to Win The Competition For Customers?

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  • Educating a customer about a product or service
  • Offering training on how to use a purchase
  • Following up to gauge satisfaction

“All too often small businesses look at an individual customer and say, ‘I made the sale, I’m done,’ and they move on to the next customer. But they fail to realize it’s not just one sale, but it’s a relationship,” Jensen says.

Handling complaints properly can strengthen that connection, but resolving issues isn’t always done one-on-one anymore.

When people post negative comments on review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List or on social media like Twitter, business owners must reply publicly to private grievances.

There is, however, an upside.

“If you very kindly, calmly respond to that user and maybe offer a coupon or their money back, then future customers who see the interaction are impressed. You took a complaint and turned it into a customer service selling point,” Jensen says.

Alternatively, when you fail to respond to a bad review or do so in an unconstructive way, you risk turning off prospects who come across the comment and don’t investigate your business further.

Build Customer Service Into Your Culture

One way to potentially reduce broadly-aired complaints is to create good feedback mechanisms.

“The easier you make it for customers to reach you directly, the less likely they’ll complain in public on social media,” says Micah Solomon, author of “High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service” (AMACOM, 2012).

Provide a contact form online, for instance, and routinely respond to comments. Likewise, establish a presence on Facebook and Twitter to genuinely engage with customers who want to ask questions and share thoughts about your products or services.

Of course, your company can only deliver top-notch service if your staffers are willing to carry out the vision, and it starts with hiring the right folks.

When interviewing potential employees, Kratzer tells them, “I don’t care if you don’t know anything about wine—that I can help you learn,” he explains. “What I really care about is that you actually like that person who came through the door and you said, ‘hello.’”

With those kinds of employees onboard, he says, offering good customer service is easy. It’s also important to continually reinforce the message about service to employees, Solomon says.

Sometimes the strongest customer service gestures are the most personal.

Kratzer, for instance, purchases wine and spirits products with specific people in mind and invites them to come in for a try. This kind of “anticipatory customer service,” in which companies figure out what customers want before they ask for it, is a level beyond customer satisfaction. And it helps people start to feel a great sense of loyalty, Solomon says.

Lisa Wells, the sole proprietor of WMSE Elite Concierge Services, has delivered a personal touch by sending handwritten thank-you cards on Thanksgiving and regularly checking in with clients.

“They know they’re not my only customer, but I don’t ever want anybody to feel like I’ve forgotten about them because I’m busy,” says Wells, who is based in San Diego, Calif.

She’ll also act as a liaison to help clients find resources for services she doesn’t offer.

Promote Your Top-Notch Customer Service

Wells is able to convey her dedication to the customer through printed testimonials on her website. Her site also features a badge showing she won a 2011 Small Business Award from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce for excellence in customer service.

Those inclusions lend credibility, she says.

Some companies generate video testimonials, which they broadcast on their websites or on social media, including YouTube.

Others may ask satisfied patrons to post positive reviews online.

Another option is to actively plug aspects of customer service in advertising taglines, such as “Same-Day Service” or “On-Time Arrival.” It’s a strategy that might attract new customers, but comes with responsibilities.

“There’s a challenge with making promises because ultimately you need to make sure the things you do associated with your tagline actually support the entire business,” says Ross Kimbarovsky, co-founder of Chicago-based crowdSPRING, an online marketplace for custom creative services like graphic design and writing.

“If your tagline is, ‘We Treat You Like Family,’ and you’re a small business, you need to do the kinds of things that would definitely prove to your customers time and time again that you treat them like family.” 

Dallas-based freelancer Mindy Charski tells others about a dry cleaner who remembers her name, has a drive-through window, returns all her clothes and jokes with her son.

The NASE Can Help

ADP Payroll Services

Want to hire the right employees who can deliver top-shelf service, but don’t want to deal with all the payroll headaches? Turn to ADP Payroll Services.

NASE Members receive discounts of up to 40 percent on services such as:

  • W-2 processing
  • 940 and 941 tax filing and deposits
  • Direct payroll deposit
  • And more

NASE Succeed Scholarships®

Seminars and workshops could help you find new ways to use customer service as a marketing tool. And an NASE Succeed Scholarship® might pay your way!

NASE Members can apply for a scholarship of up to $4,000 to help pay for:

  • Conferences and seminars that will help you grow your business
  • Continuing education through university or college courses
  • Training courses for business licensing and certification

You can apply online today for an NASE Succeed Scholarship®. But hurry!

Applications will only be accepted through Aug. 31, 2012, for courses to be completed between Jan. 1, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2014.

Succeed Scholarships® are awarded at the sole discretion of the NASE. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies will receive a scholarship. The NASE has the discretion to make no awards or present a higher or lower amount than requested. Decisions of the selection committees are final and are not subject to appeal. No application feedback will be given.


Learn More

These four NASE resources offer great ideas for profitable ways to market your business. They’re free exclusively for NASE Members. And they’re available online right now!

1.   Lasting Impressions: NASE Members Know How To Wow Customers

2.   Customer Relations Is Profitable Marketing

3.   Fast Ways To Market Your Startup

4.   Online Marketing: How To Take Your Message Beyond Your Website

Read this article in PDF form here.

Courtesy of NASE.org