Each month I have the opportunity to write an article for Microsoft’s Modern Biz Blog, I really love this, I work with amazing people – specifically Mike Torre, who is responsible for overseeing the all the content on the blog. He is funny, insightful and offers out of the box suggestions for me to communicate my message with my own unique style while still meeting the objectives for the content pieces. Writing for Microsoft allows me to focus on topics each month that matter to Canada’s SMB community. I have learned so much about myself and my community as I write these articles. I carefully select topics that help my fellow entrepreneurs to thrive. Last month, I focused on the important topic of customer service. I had an outpouring of tips from business owners in my network via Linkedin and Facebook.
What I took away from writing this article was just how much people care about making a difference in the lives of their customers. The entrepreneurs I interviewed took pride in being innovative, conscientious, and deeply considerate when looking for ways to provide excellent customer service. I hope you enjoy reading these recommendations. Please feel free to share your ideas. Together we are stronger! Also, if have any important topics I should cover send them my way!
Here is my article on crowd-sourced customer service:
56% of global consumers say they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had just one year ago. This number jumps to 68% for 18- to 34-year-olds.
Delighting customers—or at least responding to them effectively—has never mattered more. With the potential for complaints to go viral on social networks, how you handle a customer complaint can make the difference between the life and death of your business.
I like to get creative when serving my customers, clients, and members. I dig deep to ensure I understand what truly matters to my stakeholders. And I invite their feedback to ensure I am on the right track. I also believe in the value of the “shared economy,” a business trend that will only grow stronger. So, with that model as inspiration, I crowd-sourced some opinions of how to wow your customers by asking my customers, WIBN Members, for their ideas.
1. Show compassion & authenticity
Emily Antflick, Founder of Shecosystem Coworking & Wellness Studio puts it beautifully:
“Let them get to know you as a whole person—drop the facade and connect over your shared humanity, flaws and vulnerabilities. Show an authentic interest in their lives, their families, their weekend plans. Clients respond when they sense that you truly empathize with their ‘pain points’ rather than being opportunistic.”
Jessica Danford—another WIBN member and Community Engagement Manager of ALEX AND ANI—shares her tip on the same subject: “Be absolutely genuine… the customers see through a fake persona.” Remember you can’t fake sincerity.
2. Stay honest & trustworthy
Tracey Bissett, Founder of Bissett Financial Fitness, shares her thoughts:
“Honesty is always the best policy, but ensure you share your feedback and advice with a kind and caring approach. Ensure customers feel that their privacy is always being respected. If you are dealing with sensitive information, make sure you are respectful and discrete… be compassionate, straight forward and honest when discussing difficult topics.”
Be sure you are true to your word. Don’t under deliver or over promise. And if you make a mistake be honest, don’t try and hide it. Own up to it, apologize and make amends.
3. Offer resources & implement feedback
Trying sharing helpful resources with customers, like Real Food for Real Kids (RFRK) does. As providers of catering to childcare centres, RFRK lists a variety of resources—like locators for farmer markets, educational activities, and recipe guides—to help their customers. Also, ask for feedback and survey your customers. Let them know if their input actually helped you make improvements.
Instead of just offering links to resources, try to think of ways to inspire more engagement from your audience. For example, you can “gamify” your resources to encourage participation. Here’s a link to an article on gamification at Women in Biz Network.
4. Reward them with what they value
How often do we collect points for programs we never seem to use—or even think about? Before you roll out a reward or a referral program, take the time to float some ideas for incentives with your existing customers. Or, at the very least, brainstorm on what they might want. If you work with small business owners, for example, why not look for opportunities to refer business their way? Think of your customers as collaborators and look for “win-win” opportunities. Have incentives ready to go for when they refer you.
And when you do pick up business courtesy of a referral or a reward, try mailing a handwritten thank you card (with a gift card) and look for opportunities to use/buy your client’s products.