With lower customer numbers, smaller marketing budgets and lower bottom lines, SME businesses can have a rougher road to tread when it comes to acquiring new customers, however, where they can win hands down is by being the right size to offer exceptional & personal customer service. Their smaller customer base means it’s much easier for them to really get to know their individual customers on a personal basis and get to know their individual needs, giving them the truly personal service we all crave.
So what are some of the key activities that SME businesses can do to really build and enhance the service they deliver?
Let’s look at this from New Chapter Learnings 4As principles of Customer Service:

  1. Appearance
  2. Attention
  3. Accuracy
  4. Attitude

Appearance

  • Create a great first impression. Keep their premises fresh and inviting
  • Having a dress code for customer facing staff, perhaps adopting a uniform if suitable
  • Making sure that staff make customers feel welcome and greet every customer with a smile.
  • Wherever possible have a member of staff answering the phone rather than being lured into using an automated answering system where one isn’t needed.
  • Making sure staff demonstrate an energetic tone of voice and use positive words and language with their customers.
  • Invest in training for their staff to make sure that they have all of the necessary skills to be able to treat their customers well.
  • Give staff a clear understanding of what customer service standards the business expects them to deliver and regularly observe their interactions with customers, giving them feedback on their performance.
  • Make sure they understand the importance of great customer service both to their customers and the business itself.

Attention

  • Ensure all staff really listen to every word their customer says and wherever possible go the extra mile.
  • Differentiate the business through the service it offers.
  • Give customers their undivided attention
  • Manage any distractions, including colleague interruptions. Give customers 100% of their focus when they’re dealing with them
  • Show that they’ve heard and understood what their customer has said to them
  • Make sure staff are asking useful questions to ensure they understand exactly what their customer needs and that they’ve understood them correctly. Once they know what their customers want they will then be able to help them in the most appropriate way.

Attitude

  • Have a can do attitude and translate that attitude into what is said and done for customers
  • Ensure staff take personal responsibility and create confidence in their customers
  • Build a sense of pride in staff for the work they do. Customers are often very grateful for that personal touch.
  • Deliver on their promises. The phrase ‘under promise and over deliver’ can be particularly powerful for small businesses where a memorable experience can generate personal recommendations and result in repeat business too.
  • Make sure your customer leaves you with a good feeling and a smile on their face.

Accuracy

  • Make sure staff get to know the products and services that’s on offer and exactly how they work for and match customers’ needs.
  • Build in strong processes and get staff to double check and make sure that everything is as it should be
  • Take the time to get things right
  • Make sure everyone’s always up to date with the latest information about their role and the business
  • If a mistake is made they need to make sure it’s put right straight away and always learnt from. Where possible customers should be offered something a little extra for any inconvenience they’ve suffered in addition to the apology and rectification of their issue.

By adopting these behaviours small businesses can really stand out from their larger competitors. Whilst they may appear ordinary on the outside what they will do for customers will be extraordinary giving their customers a reason to love them and keep them coming back again and again.

Michelle HolmesMichelle Holmes – Director – New Chapter Learning
Michelle is a highly experienced Training Consultant. She uses her skills and experience to help other learning professionals develop both their teams and their training content and also looks at how they can enhance their existing training and adopt e-learning and virtual learning as new delivery methods. Most recently she’s been working with Santander and the Department for Work and Pensions on some of their training.

About New Chapter Learning
New Chapter Learning, based in Northern England, is a leading independent Training Consultancy, working directly with businesses and offering specialist training design and consultancy services to other training organisations and large in-house teams. The business has an ethos of developing learning that sticks. They use a broad mix of training delivery methods, including online/practical and activity based learning experiences for individuals and groups. The business thrives on innovation and have led the way embracing mobile, virtual and e-learning as tools for all size organisations. Having developed their own 4As Customer Service eLearning Training, they’re now working with a 3D Virtual Reality company, developing a virtual Customer Service Training environment.

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