We’ve previously written about how, for some entrepreneurs, business can be about building relationships and the role virtual assistants play in forging those strong bonds.

But there is a lot you can do to establish trust and create a solid foundation between you and your clients. We all know it takes more than a kick-ass product or service to have people flocking to your business.

This blog will break down exactly what good customer service means, why it’s important to your company and what you can do to meet your customers’ needs without breaking the bank and sticking to your brand values.

Grab a cuppa and check out our top 10 tips for great customer service:

Why is customer service important?

It’s a great question and the answer is key to your success in business, no matter what sector you’re in.

We’ve all been bamboozled (dare we say bullied?) into buying things we didn’t really want, either because the salesperson was very persuasive or too pushy and we just wanted to get on with our lives.

That’s not great customer service. A smart business owner understands their ideal audience, knows their needs and pain points and strives to meet them. How they do that determines their level of customer service.

1 a positive attitude + good manners = good customer service

One of the easiest ways to make a customer happy is by demonstrating a positive attitude. Grumpy business owners tend not to be successful ones, and a smile costs nothing.

Back that up with good manners – digital communications such as emails or platforms like Slack can be a bit cold and the nuances of a conversation can sometimes be lost. If you’re able to use them and it’s appropriate, emojis can help.

Politeness is important too. Customers can be quickly put off by a perceived cavalier or rude attitude, so it’s worth ensuring your whole team is up to speed with the correct way to interact with customers to make sure they get great service.

2 Get the right tech

The digital age has done a lot to help businesses meet their clients’ needs and improve customer service, and not having the right systems in place can be a real barrier to keeping your customers happy.

While a virtual assistant comes with their own tech, getting the most out of them means giving them access to systems that will make it as easy as possible for them to meet your needs. It’s the same with your customers.

Make communications as direct as possible with a livechat feature. A study found 44% of online consumers said having questions answered in real-time while they were shopping was among a website’s most important features.

Helpdesk tools are also great ways to capture, convert and resolve customer queries, ensuring their experience is as seamless and hassle-free as possible, while a customer relationship management or CRM tool will generate lots of useful data that you can use to refine the customer experience and enhance your customer service.

3 Does your website deliver a great customer experience?

One thing that is almost guaranteed to put off customers is a slow, hard-to-navigate or out-of-date website. If it’s not delivering a satisfying customer experience, it could dent your business reputation and even affect your bottom line.

Carry our regular A/B testing – two versions of the same site or page – to find out which your customers prefer, then follow up with quick questionnaires, either via an email newsletter or a social media group, to find out what they liked or didn’t like.

Going that extra mile, asking your customers’ opinions and acting on their feedback will add value to your brand and help you deliver exceptional customer service.

4 Don’t be a stranger to your customers

Even the busiest solopreneur who really has to do it all themselves has no excuse for not answering or acknowledging customer queries (and complaints) in a timely manner.

Customers value the personal touch, and Twitter is a brilliant platform for directly contacting firms and it will stand out like a sore thumb if it takes you hours or days to respond.

Monitor your social media presence and, for bigger companies, make sure your routing process is up to speed so customer enquiries don’t linger, unloved in a distant corner of your email inbox. A prompt reply will boost your customer service.

5 Empathy builds loyalty

Successful business owners are the ones who get inside their customers’ heads and hearts, not only by meeting their clients’ needs with great products or services, but by building trust through empathy.

“The customer is always right” isn’t quite as hard-and-fast a rule as it used to be, but your handling of any problems they have could make or break your reputation for delivering great customer service.

That means treading gently if there’s a misunderstanding or something doesn’t go quite right, and trying to see the situation from their point of view. Always add a personal touch: be conciliatory rather than confrontational, and use any positive criticism to enhance your customer service.

6 Businesses with great customer service always listen

Every successful company, no matter its size, knows the customer should be at the core of its operations, driving and guiding every brand decision.

Those firms will listen keenly to what their customers have to say, whether it’s social media conversations or shopping trends: their marketing departments’ spider senses will be tingling 24/7.

It’s not only a way to find out and fix processes or strategies that aren’t quite right, it’s also a great way to find out what your customer really likes, enabling you to maximise those opportunities, tell your clients it’s in response to them and watch your customer satisfaction levels skyrocket.

7 Do rewards and incentives improve customer service?

Rewarded customers are happy customers, so offering loyalty programmes, voucher systems or other forms of membership can really enhance your customers’ impression of your business.

You don’t have to be a behemoth like Amazon with its Prime membership to reap the benefits of these systems – even smaller-scale programmes can have a hugely positive impact on your brand reputation.

And don’t forget, your clients will talk about how good you make them feel to friends, family and their social media pals.

8 Can you say no to a customer?

Even the most savvy entrepreneur, from time to time, has to face the reality that they can’t meet a customers’ needs or deliver what they want. Forget sorry being the hardest word – saying no to a customer, especially a loyal one, is a wrench!

But it’s not quite the catastrophe it appears to be. Use it as an opportunity to go the extra mile for your client: find other ways to address their needs or offer vouchers as an alternative (or apology, if needed).

If the outcome is positive, having to say no to a customer could be a money-can’t-buy marketing opportunity if the customer spreads the word about your empathetic, can-do customer service.

9 Get everyone on the same customer service page

No matter how big your company, everyone needs to know how to deal with customers and offer a personal touch. That means creating a customer service approach that has value and is reflective of your brand.

Business owners should also ensure any staff members dealing directly with customers have the right qualities: patience, politeness and empathy, while also being knowledgable and informed about the products or services they are selling.

10 Say thank you

It might seem a bit old-fashioned in this fast-moving, digital age, but our last tip feeds right back into our first: good manners go a long, long way.

That means remembering to say thank you to a customer for their purchase, no matter how big or small. That personal interaction could mean the world to someone sitting at a keyboard hundreds of miles away, and be what makes them come back to you in the future.

So there you have it, our top 10 tips for great customer service. If you need a helping hand managing your social media to keep your clients happy bunnies, drop us a line and we’ll handle it all.

Right by your side, virtually.

Stay open, stay sharp, stay busy