Can small businesses ever live up to customer service standards?  

Author: Philippa Lowe
Published: 20th August, 2019

Can small businesses ever live up to customer service standards?

With big names like Amazon killing it when it comes to the online retail game, to most people, it seems like there’s not much they can’t do. It can be discouraging to look at companies like Amazon and feel as though your small business can never live up to the customer service standards they’re setting. 

Big businesses will always have more time, money and manpower to live up to every customer’s expectation of quality and service, but small businesses have their own advantages in their unique approaches, physical proximity to their customers and their personal touches. They’re not just cop-out attributes, those things are what gives small businesses the edge in an increasingly automated big business world. 

It’s not impossible for small businesses to compete, even with fewer resources. It’s all about being prepared, being authentic and getting a little creative: 

Content should be your new best friend

That’s right, we know we’re always banging on about content but it really makes a difference, particularly when it comes to giving your customers the answers they want. Big businesses can automate or employ people so that they are available 24/7 for queries and even purchases — small businesses don’t have that luxury, often needing to stick to traditional business hours, but there’s no reason why you can’t use your content to give your customers all the information they need to be ready to purchase as soon as you are available to them. Here are 4 different ways you can provide answers: 

  1. FAQ page: simply a list of frequently asked questions on a page of your website. The great thing is that a FAQ page is always available and you can build on it over time. The downside is that it’s passive, generalised and may not answer a very specific question a customer has.

  2. Knowledge Base: when you have so many FAQs that you need to start categorising them, consider a Knowledge Base where customers can type in their questions and answers come up in response. Much like a FAQ page, it’s always available but it is still generalised and only slightly more interactive.

  3. Chat bot: having a chat window on your website means that it can be answered by real people during business hours (if you have the manpower) and AI when you’re out of office. It’s always available, which is great, but it can lack the personal touch — lots of people love the convenience of chatbots but many still love to know they’ll always be speaking to a real person.

  4. Social media: presumably you already have at least one social media platform for your business — you can use this as a way to interact with customers, give them information and answer their questions. Of course, social media is only helpful during the hours that you have someone manning the account, but it can be quicker and easier than an email and it showcases your personality and authenticity. 

Each one has its own pros and cons, but if you combine some or all of them together, you can be sure that your customers are getting all the information they need before they buy. If you’re not sure where to start, simply begin with the FAQ page — you can always build from there as you go. 

The content you’re pushing out through those channels is so important but if it’s not backed up by a good management system, you’ll start to see queries falling through the cracks. Use a system like Asana or Trello to take note of the questions you’re manually dealing with through social media and the more traditional routes like calls and emails, and make sure they’re all being dealt with. Using a system like Asana, you can have different ‘boards’, assign queries to team members and move them around according to their status. 

A system like this one means that not only will you keep on top of things, but you’ll also have a record of your queries so you can add more information to your FAQ or Knowledge Base and make it more freely available through your content so that some of those emails and calls start to decrease in number, freeing up some ever-precious time. 

All of these options are either free or extremely low-cost. They won’t break the bank and as long as you have one person to take responsibility of making sure they’re all doing the jobs they’re supposed to do, you can start to take your customer service — especially in those hours when you’ve closed the doors — up a notch to compete with the big names. 

Want to use your content to boost your customer service capacity? Incredible Communications can help. Email us at http://www.incrediblecommunications.com.au/#contact or call 0414 711 107.