Small business owners are often the salesperson, marketer, operations manager, human resources representative, and much more for their company, all at once. This can be both time-consuming and overwhelming, but what causes even more sleepless nights is the thought of losing business altogether—of becoming irrelevant in your market, or fighting a weakening reputation after a less-than-perfect online review.
According to GrooveHQ: On average, one happy customer tells 9 people about their positive experience with a company, while one unhappy customer tells 16 people about their negative experience.
Those bad reviews go a long way in shaping potential customers’ opinions. In 2012, “89% of consumers viewed online sources of product and service reviews as trustworthy--and another 80% have changed their minds about a purchase based solely on the negative reviews they read,” (Inc.com). One can only imagine how much higher that statistic has climbed today...
You always want to focus on improving on your sales tactics and beefing up your marketing strategy, but you never want to do that at the expense of your company’s customer support.
If you value your business, you need to value your customer support model. It’s as simple as that. Though you may not be able to provide 24/7 service to your clients (and trust me, even companies who say they provide 24/7 service don’t generally live up to it in their execution), maintaining a support-first mindset and truly investing in your current customer base will make your clients feel like they’re getting 24/7 support… and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Here are 5 sure-fire ways to improve your customer support—and ultimately, your overall client satisfaction level—without magically creating more hours in the day:
1. Make support priority #1
This may be “beating a dead horse” a bit at this point, but it really can’t be said enough… Customer satisfaction is the #1 key to your business’s overall success, so supporting your customers needs to be your #1 priority. Hands down.
How do you ensure this, though?
The late, great Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” He couldn’t have been more right.
For Curaytor, that metric is our Net Promoter Score (NPS). We actively review the scores our clients give us and never shy away from the negative reviews. We reach out to all clients who grade us, whether it was a 10 or a 2. Of course, conversations with those 2’s may be challenging, but could ultimately improve those relationships and help us retain our clients.
Keeping customer support priority #1 by actively measuring it and addressing it is key to every company’s growth and overall success.
2. Practice time-blocking daily
A best practice for productivity is creating a calendar each day/week/month… and sticking to it. Do you need to send support emails to customers, send follow-up calls to new leads, and take time to market your business each day? (If you’re unsure, the answer is yes).
Are you most energized in the morning? Then block time in the morning for whichever task is most difficult for you. If you’re least energized in the evening, doing the thing(s) you’re most comfortable with then is likely your best option.
However you choose to block your time in your calendar is up to you. Just remember: putting the events in your calendar or check boxes on your to-do list isn’t actually completing the task at hand. Empower yourself to do those things when you tell yourself you’re going to do them. Be in control of your workday each and every day.
You won’t regret it.
3. Lean on great technology to increase your overall efficiency
There are too many productivity apps to paste into one blog post, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all work perfectly for you. If you do better at keeping yourself organized with your day-planner and trapper-keeper, by all means, stick to what you know. But if you’re a tech-buff and want to test out some great tools, don’t let me stop you.
The key here is maintaining control over the technology. Don’t let it get away from you. Support chats won’t answer themselves simply because you’ve added the functionality to your website. To-do’s won’t be checked off your list just because they’ve been added to your spreadsheet.
Don’t be afraid to lean on great technology for support in order to best support your client base. But also don’t be afraid of scrapping the technology, either. It doesn’t make you any less relevant or effective. If you’re spending more time organizing your tasks than actually completing them… ditch the app.
Paper and pen will do the job just fine.
4. Treat every support ticket like a lead
You get an internet lead. You follow up within minutes—a few hours at the absolute max. You follow-up consistently for a number of weeks, and maybe even months. You nurture that lead… until it converts. But then what do you do? It’s not a lead anymore, so no follow-up is necessary, right?
I challenge you to reconsider that notion and adjust your definition of a lead. What if a lead was always a lead? Keeping in mind that “businesses that grow their customer retention rates by as little as 5% typically see profit increases ranging from 25% to 95%” (GrooveHQ), it’s beneficial to always give your clients as much consideration as your leads.
Never stop selling. Never stop marketing. And definitely never stop supporting those people that have already helped, even in a small way, to keep your business growing.
5. Don’t forget to take breaks
We all know the saying “Work Hard, Play Hard.” In layman’s terms, the phrase suggests that playing hard comes as a reward for working hard. While that can often be the case, I’d actually argue that a more accurate version of the statement would be: “Play Hard, Work Hard.”
Playing relieves stress. Even if you really enjoy your job and love what you do every day, our brains are hardwired to be most productive after a refueling of energy. “Playing” may actually be napping… or reading a book, taking a walk, or chatting with a coworker or friend. Taking 10 minutes to recharge our minds in the middle of each work day will make us both more productive and more attentive to our customers.
Though it may seem like you’re actually stopping your customer support altogether by stopping to clear your head—and that may technically be the case—that break is a necessity for your overall success.
Whatever it is that you choose to do with your 10 minutes is up to you, just don’t forget to give yourself (and, ultimately, your customers) that time each and every day.
This may seem like a lot to add to your already-packed daily routine, but don’t consider it adding at all. You’re simply improving what’s already in place. And if that improvement leads to more satisfied, long-term customers, it’s definitely worth the effort.