Let’s imagine that three people decide to start a company. Market buzz was slow to grow but before long this up and coming company developed a solid reputation for itself and community support soon followed. While it is tempting to continue implementing the strategies that have proved successful thus far, there is still a question of whether or not additional strategies might generate an even greater level of success. Would implementing an online help desk software make business operations more efficient and improve customer service?
Developing Strategies for Anticipated Scenarios
Small businesses are distinguished by their ability to create one-on-one solutions for their clients. Without a corporate structure determining how business ought to be done, owners and managers are able to devise innovative solutions that meet the immediate needs of the customer in front of them.
This face to face way of doing business is one of the greatest advantages that small businesses have, but insightful owners understand that customer service requires planning ahead. Developing customer service solutions before problems arise will prevent internal and external conflicts. Teams can avoid doing duplicate work when a clear protocol is developed. Customer concerns will receive timely and appropriate follow-up when a useful tracking process is implemented.
Even though a small business may not require customer support software immediately upon opening their doors, because the customer experience is a major part of every business’s reputation this topic should be given a thorough consideration before much time has passed.
Professionalism Pays Off
Small businesses are under a lot of pressure to do things well. In some ways they experience a higher level of scrutiny than big businesses because small organizations are perceived to be more personal. Even if a company consists of just a few employees, playing the role of a large professional organization is worthwhile. Taking a professional stance by implementing the same strategies as larger players will give you a more professional reputation and help you stand out from the crowd.
Making Support Easy to Manage
Email has many advantages but it is a poor tool for customer support. A help desk software system makes support easier to achieve in many ways. For example:
- Support software allows users to track cases and mark which have been resolved.
- No spam folders, email filters, or misdirected messages to contend with.
- Streamlined communication prevents conflicting messages, contradictory answers, and repetitive solutions.
- Support programs connect directly with the sales team.
- Integrate company social media accounts with support software for more responsive customer interaction.
Support software is more adaptive, more responsive, and simply better suited to customer service applications than email is.
Other Support Solutions
Another support option is to provide customers with an online knowledge base where they can access and share information with one another. An online end-user portal is a great way to provide very low cost support around the clock. Such a system can reduce the number of support calls logged and can motivate increased involvement on the part of the customer.
A Solution You Cannot Afford to Miss
Let’s face it, everyone at one time or another has wished that they could tell that pain in the rear customer to go fly the proverbial kite! I’m talking about that customer that is never happy, no matter what you do for him! These unprofitable customers will usually fall into the 80/20 rule, where 20% consume 80% of your time. This poses a serious dilemma for most businesses in this situation. Can you afford to fire a customer and even worst, have them spread negative feedback to other current or potential customers?
You’ve fired employees who either violate company policy or who represent the company in a negative way, so couldn’t you go about firing your customers in the same way? In the age of social media it’s easy for one customer’s complaint to be read by hundreds of people in a matter of minutes so be cautious. Just like there’s a right way and a wrong way to fire an employee, the same applies to firing a customer.
Reasons to Fire a Customer
It’s one thing for a customer to have a genuine complaint or grievance about your products or services, but customers who seem to complain just to complain or always trying to get something for free need to be addressed. Profitability is required for any business to survive and if a customer is WAY more trouble than they’re worth, why keep them? Spending time on unprofitable and unappreciative customers keeps you from pursuing valuable money making business opportunities so always keep that in mind.
When I say “fire a customer,” I mean terminating any type of agreement that the two of you might have together. I will be the first to admit that it’s very unsettling to treat a customer this way, but if you know that you’re providing a top notch product and or service coupled with stellar customer service, than you’ll be doing yourself and your business a favour by cutting these types of customers loose.
Firing Customers the Right Way
The first thing that you’ll want to do is make sure that you carefully and thoroughly document any problems that you’re having with the customer, which is similar to how you’d write up an employee. This is always easier with a help desk solution like Cayzu, which allows you to track internal notes that customers don’t see. You aren’t doing this to complain about the customer on social media like they might do with you, but instead so that you have legitimate proof if it comes down to actually having to fire the customer.
Next, remember that you’re a professional and conduct yourself as such. What this means is that you want to be respectful and refrain from using negative terms while breaking the relationship with your customer. Simply try your best to find a diplomatic way to show that the relationship between the two of you isn’t working and that this is for the best for both parties (this is important because the customer will see you as the aggressor so make sure to take the blame and don’t point fingers!).
Never fire your customer through a letter or email. It’s best to do it over the phone or in person. Firing someone through a social media message or email is the equivalent of breaking up with someone over a text message. If the situation demands it, don’t hesitate to ask the customer to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This step might seem extreme, but it’s sure to help you avoid any headaches in the future. Finally, you should also give the customer a parting gift (or refund) to show that there aren’t any hard feelings no matter how you might otherwise feel. This makes you look like the bigger person and makes them feel as though they got something out of the deal which will also limit your exposure to negative feedback about your business on social media.
Disclaimer: Firing a customer is NEVER easy and I would NEVER suggest you do it unless it is absolutely your last resort. Explore all options to work things out first, even an unprofitable relationship can turn around or spawn into an introduction to a more profitable customer.
To celebrate the 4th of July the team here at Cayzu Helpdesk thought it would be fun to create a post that would recap some of our past favourite blogs. These blogs will surely put some spark in your customer’s love for your business!
If you’re running an e-commerce web site be sure to check out:
11 WINNING Customer Service Tips for E-commerce (none from Charlie Sheen)
Are you a small business that needs a little help fighting the Amazons of the world?:
Small Businesses Can Combat the Amazons of the World
Everyone is marketing to the same customers! Be different and stand out!:
Why Customer Service Should Replace Your Marketing
Find out why the crooks behind the Cryptolocker virus care about customer service:
Yes, Even Crooks Care About Customer Service
Put your small business in the driver seat through Customer Service:
Customer Service – Putting Small Businesses in the Driver Seat
Is there really a marriage between social media and customer service?:
The Conundrum that is Social Media and Customer Service
Selfie’s are the latest craze! Can they really help with your Customer Service?:
Can a Selfie Help Your Customer Service Strategy?
And finally, with all the rage going on with the World Cup how could we not compare it to Customer Service?:
What the World Cup Can Teach You About Customer Service
Thanks again for your continued readership and keep a lookout for part 2 of our blog recap in the near future!
Facebook is a notoriously consumer-oriented social media platform. In my experience, customers want to know that they can interact with a real company and real people, not automated message systems. Facebook isn’t only great for small business branding and customer engagement; it’s also great for customer support. Instead of floundering during peak busy times, get organized and efficient with the right online custom support software and social media strategy.
1. Turning Customers Into Advocates
Small businesses should have a Facebook account that reaches local audiences, not the masses. Engage with your followers and fans on social media platforms. Keep social influences going by turning customers into advocates, and interact with customer’s friends and family.
2. Triaging Customer Issues Via Social Channels and Traditional CRM Systems
You don’t have to isolate customer service from the rest of your business. Instead, integrate the power of social media influence and your customer support strategy with help desk ticketing systems that are prepared for the age of social media. In fact, there is no better place to answer customer complaints than on Facebook. Show that you are a real company that responds to customer concerns.
3. Personify Your Company With Social Media
Facebook gives your small business more than the opportunity to post pictures and logos. Instead of only giving customers a vague idea of what your small business is all about, you can strengthen your brand’s persona on Facebook with one-on-one interactions that are not directly related to business. By “humanizing” your business, you can gain customer trust.
4. Build a Community Around Your Business
The best part about social media marketing is that you can build an online community around your brand. Increase levels of customer engagement by offering a comfortable place for users to interact with you and with each other. Increase customer loyalty by engaging with customers on an everyday basis instead of only talking with customers when addressing issues related to customer support.
5. Climb SEO Rankings With Social Media Influence
Through the proper use of social media, a small business can drive qualified traffic directly to its website through their Facebook page. Sending qualified web traffic to your site can help your SEO rankings by avoiding high bounce rates, when users click on your site and click the back button a few seconds later, as well as increase your bottom line.
6. Your Competition Might Already Be on the Social Media Scene
It doesn’t matter whether your direct competition has a Facebook page or not. You need to focus on how social media will help your small business succeed. The right social media strategy coupled with the right help desk software can help you connect with your target audience in a more effective and personal way.
7. Show Clients and Customers Your Brand Every Day
Keep your Facebook audience in the loop with posts, updates, and shares. Show that you are more than a faceless business by having a strong social media presence. Make it easy for existing customers to like your page and share their thoughts about your small business.
8. Scale With Online Custom Support Software
I’m not going to lie, the thought of providing customer service through social media can look like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Getting the right help desk software like Cayzu will help you scale your business through Facebook. Create the right brand persona, and create real connections with real people on social media. Put your customer service initiatives in the forefront of your organization and let everyone see how eager you are to please through Facebook.
I know how many problems email can cause for emerging businesses. Your business might not be large enough to warrant outsourcing customer service, but it might be too large to handle without an automated system. Sooner or later, your startup will outgrow email as a quality customer support solution. You can effectively use a shared inbox as a cost-effective way to address customer service requests when you have a manageable customer base.
As your business continues to grow, you will start to see signs that you need online custom support software for your emerging business to thrive.
1. Email Has Certain Limitations
Email does not have the ability to fully automate the customer support process. You cannot rely on an inbox to effectively distribute emails between different employees. Additionally, you cannot work around glitches associated with emails in spam folders or emails lost in cyberspace after your business has reached a certain size. You will start to waste too much time on email-related issues at the cost of growth.
2. Bad Customer Service = Bad Public Relations
Your customers can bash you on social media in a matter of seconds. After all, isn’t that a large reason why people love major social media platforms so much? Inadequate customer support can have a substantial negative impact after a highly influential Tweeter decides to write a few characters about how your business was created by evil forces. Or an angry customer posts your dirty laundry to their Facebook account straight from their smartphones. Conversely, you can leverage the power of social media by giving customers a reason to create positive buzz.
3. Customers Love Social Media
Invest in software that will organize customer requests via social media. It’s nice to see how many people think your business is cool, but it can be a tour de force effort to sift through hundreds of comments to find specific requests and concerns.
4. General Email Confusion
Hitting the same customer with support twice can make a poor impression. Shared inboxes make agent collision more likely. Additionally, emails routinely get stuck in spam folders, accidentally deleted, saved instead of sent, or sent to the wrong person. It’s the nature of email.
5. Track Customer History
Many customer concerns appear a bit strange. Is a concerned customer hopelessly confused? Is your staff hopelessly confused? Tracking customer history through email may be possible, but it would require customers to sit back and wait for you to dig through an expansive inbox. Help desk software can expedite customer concerns by efficiently tracking orders.
6. Keep Your Sales Team In the Know
Online custom support software is a great way to keep your sales team in the know. Email does not tie into sales support by design. Spend less time addressing email confusion, and spend more time closing sales. Identify qualified leads and repeat customers instead of trying to find out what happened to some email from a few months ago.
Focus on Sales Instead of Email Confusion With Cayzu Helpdesk
Get your small business over the emerging business quandary with online custom support software from Cayzu. Contact us today for more information about how we make businesses thrive.
The buying cycle has completely changed over the past decade, and the companies that are now just realizing this are losing both revenue and market share. A recent CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that 57 % of purchase decisions are made BEFORE a customer even talks to a sales rep. Buyers are now, more than ever, truly connected to information like never before, making the competitive landscape even fiercer.
Building a Loyal Customer Base is Essential for the Survival of your Business
For small and medium sized businesses, building a loyal customer base has always been important. However, many business owners are so invested in the search for new business, they sometimes lose sight of what’s really important and are left to deal with an eroding customer base.
As a manager or owner of a small or medium sized organization, you can lose customers simply by not picking up the phone. If your customer support is hard to find, is rude, or is incompetent, you risk losing even more. A bad customer experience can not only turn customers away, it can also hurt future business with poor online reviews or negative feedback that could be shared with friends.
A study conducted by the Gartner Group revealed that SMBs can earn 80% of their future business just by retaining 20% of their existing customers (The famous 80/20 rule). For a business, new customers ensure short term profitability while repeat business ensures long term sustainability.
So Why Ditch Marketing?
With the tremendous amount of noise that floods consumers ears each and every second of the day, small and medium sized organizations would be better off investing in building up their customer support agents to become internal product and customer champions. When looking to buy a product or acquire a service, customers simply ignore the constant advertisements and instead look to speak to their peers for recommendations through social media. If you provide excellent customer support, you will be recommended, which will be much more beneficial to your business than any ad could ever provide you.
Here are a few tips on how you can retain customers through improved customer service:
Train your Employees:
Train your employees, arrange workshops and/or training sessions, and let them know the importance of customer retention. Create product experts.
Identify your Best Customers and Reward them
You may reward customer loyalty through discount packages and/or gifts. This tactic not only gets you repeat business; it helps you retain your top customers.
Interact with your Customers
Customer service is all about interaction. Whether you do it through the phone, through a social networking site, or through your website, your customers must have a way to reach you and you must be there when they do. A multi-channel help desk solution, like Cayzu, will help you stay organized so that customers are answered no matter if their support request came in from the phone, email, your web site or even your Facebook or Twitter page!
Do you think customer service is more important than marketing? Share your thoughts and opinions with us through the comments section.
There is no denying that social media and customer service go hand in hand. Could there really be a better way to get help than to ask publicly where it’s almost impossible for the recipient to not answer?
Yes, finally the big brands can stop being the bullies and start taking the punches! No more sobbing about a purchase that went wrong, because you can now get them back… publicly.
But is 140 characters really enough to get your point across and come to a resolution that you’d be happy with? Consider this, the title of this blog (The Conundrum that is social media and customer service) alone is 83 characters and it ONLY contains nine words!
When you really think about it, is it effective to use abbreviations, hash tags and short links to get a solution to your problem? How can you get your point across in that little amount of words? If your complaint has 200 characters, would you need to send two separate tweets about it?
The Burning Question
So is the marriage of social media and customer service really a good one? Does it hold merit or should they get divorced, maybe even publicly like Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren?
I guess the answer is: “it doesn’t really matter”, because it’s not going away any time soon. People love airing their dirty laundry publicly for the sheer reason that it makes them feel better. What better way to get back at Snike for a defective pair of shoes that they won’t return, than to scream at them publicly in front of an audience of millions, all from the protection and comfort of your own living room.
I’m a Brand on Social Media. What Should I do?
Monitor and embrace the negativity on your social media properties. NEVER delete complaints; you will be called out on it. All customer feedback is an opportunity to enhance the relationship with your customers and show them that you care. Only worry when your customers stop complaining, because that’s when they’ve moved on. And remember, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.
Cayzu Helpdesk – Automatically monitors your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you don’t have to.