Customer Service / Startup Life

Basics of Customer Service

Customer service is a dying art in the high speed technology world. Business owners are depending on social media to handle business and sometimes that’s not enough, to be honest it’s a band aid for bigger issues. Replying to customers on social media is great; however when customers can’t reach you by phone or email to air their grievances firstly, than that is the bigger issue.

In my opinion, it should be a customer or clients last resort to be able to get a hold of you through social media alone. There should be accessible means in place for people to get a hold of you in a timely matter, in accordance with your business hours. Think about the lack of response from you being the first experience they have from your company, this bad experience will easily be aired out on twitter. It takes years to build trust and 140 characters to tarnish your name.

Getting the basics of customer service in order will help your business tremendously.

Open Lines of Communication

This is something that is non-negotiable, your current and potential customers need to have a means to communicate with you, and not just via whatever social media platform you are using. On your site, make sure contact information is visibly displayed in the footer of the site- showing a simple, “contact us” link, this link should direct them to your contact page. This link should display an email option, contact form and phone number. If you do not want to share your personal phone number, you can sign up for Google Voice. You need to let your customers know they can reach you. In addition to that, you WILL RESPOND during allotted business time frames. Building trust is important.

Prompt Response Time

Yes, there are a million and one things you need to be doing for your business to grow. Being accessible is one of the things you must do if you want to stay in business. People will contact you and they expect a response. Make sure you always have your companies operation times and the time frame you will respond to emails listed on your site. It is always helpful for you to put email time on your calendar. If you know you get a large number of emails daily, set aside 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening to respond to them. There’s no reasonable excuse to be an unresponsive business owner. There are 24 hours in a day, your customers or clients are a vital reason you are in business.

Simple tip: Set up canned email responses to your most frequently asked questions, this will cut down on your time. In addition, if you can respond to an email in less than 2 minutes, always do that- it helps tremendously. Also, look into the MailBox app that everyone is raving about.

Hire Customer Service Rep

We highly suggest if your company is bringing in a substantial amount of revenue, invest in a company service team or staff members. These persons sole purpose is to answer customer service questions as soon as they arrive. They don’t handle social media, branding, or any other distractions, their role is to simply answer customer emails and calls. Train this person to respond with canned responses for your most frequent inquires. Taking these measures will simplify a lot for you. If you don’t want to have an actual staff, you can go the route of Ruby. If you read any business magazine you might have seen the ads for Ruby, your customer service representative. It is highly effective for business, but yes it costs money. A small price to pay when the actions of bad customer service can put you out of business.

Note: if you have a WordPress site, install My Live Chat plugin. When online, you can respond to customers in chat.

Remember to always take off your business owners hat once in awhile and look at things from a customer’s stand point- you are here to serve them. When thinking over all of this, please take note of big brands that get it right. For example, look at Nordstrom or Mad Mimi. I am avid shopper of Nordstrom, they have NEVER given me bad customer service, in fact, they exceed my expectations every time. Mad Mimi literally just gets it- in terms of customer service, any time an issue has arisen with using their email marketing program, they have responded in a timely matter. They have even given one on one calls to teach tricks and share tips.

You goal for your customers is to be an advocate for your business and to be constantly singing your praises.

What are your thoughts on the basics of customer service? Are there things you wish businesses would implement to make it easier for you to communicate with them? Sound off in the comments.

Photography by Brittanie Reid
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Imperfect Concepts is the premier destination for the creative women business owners looking for how to guides, tips, motivation & inspiration.

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