Customer Service Dos and Don'ts for SMBs

As you already know, the world of ecommerce is hyper-competitive; one significant mistake could send a valuable customer to one of your competitors. If that happens too often, your business will face serious financial problems.

Good customer service is the key to retaining existing customers and attracting new buyers to your store. Pay close attention to these six customer service dos and don'ts for SMBs; making the right choices will help you retain loyal, happy shoppers.

Do: Use Social Media to Communicate With Customers

Social media has become one of the most preferred methods for customers to communicate with companies. In fact, 47 percent of customers prefer to contact companies about issues via social media. That's second only to filing complaints in-person.

If you don't have social media accounts, you need to create them ASAP. At first, you can focus on the most popular platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Later, you may want to make accounts for other social media sites like YouTube, Pinterest and Reddit.

The sooner you can connect with a customer, the sooner you can make that person happy.

Use your accounts proactively to respond to messages. You should also search for mentions of your company so you can identify potential complaints before they become major issues. The sooner you can connect with a customer, the sooner you can make that person happy.

Don't: Outsource Your Customer Services to Another Company

A lot of SMBs operate on shoestring budgets. When you don't have much money to hire new employees, you may feel tempted to outsource your customer service to another business.

While that may help you make ends meet, it forces you to hand over control of your customer service to someone else. Unfortunately, the company that you outsource too may not share your desire to treat customers exceptionally.

There are some services that you can outsource. Customer service is not one of them.

By outsourcing, you could frustrate your customers. Even companies that try to align with your branding often fail to match your corporate culture. When this happens, your customers can receive mixed messages that make them distrustful.

There are some services that you can outsource. Customer service is not one of them.

Do: Respond to Customer Complaints Quickly

When customers send you messages via email or social media, they expect quick responses. Surveys show that 64 percent of Twitter users expect responses within an hour, and 85 percent of Facebook users expect responses within 6 hours.

64 percent of Twitter users expect responses within an hour, and 85 percent of Facebook users expect responses within 6 hours.

Luckily for you, most companies fail to meet these expectations. In fact, they don't even come close. The average responses on Facebook and Twitter don't come until more than a day later.

Focus on responding to messages quickly so you can keep your customers satisfied. If you don't have enough employees to write personal responses, then you should at least have your accounts automatically reply. If you tell customers that you've received their messages and you're looking for solutions, they'll give you more time before they start complaining to the rest of the world about your terrible customer service.

Don't: Try to Make Excuses When You Fail Your Customers

No matter how much effort you put into flawless service, your company will make mistakes. Customers know that these things happen. After all, they make mistakes at work, too.

Admitting that you made a mistake helps customers understand your humanity.

Admitting that you made a mistake helps customers understand your humanity. If you try to hide your problems, then they will see you as another company that's trying to take advantage of them. In today's world of hyper-connectivity, a few complaints can turn into a social media backlash against your brand.

Instead of denying, you should accept your failures, admit your mistakes and apologize for the inconvenience.

Do: Amaze Customers With Your Generosity

Actually, try doing more than apologizing. An apology is nice, but it probably won't win you any new customers. You can turn around the situation by amazing customers with generosity. If you sent the wrong color shirt, tell your customer to keep it and you'll send the right one. If you accidentally charged someone for shipping and handling, give that person a gift card that more than makes up for the unexpected cost.

An apology is nice, but it probably won't win you any new customers.

By wowing your customers, you make it more likely that they'll share their experiences with friends. The next time someone wants to purchase the types of items that you sell, they may remember the good things they've heard about your brand. As word spreads, making things right with one customer could help you attract many more loyal shoppers.

Don't: Miss Opportunities to Deepen Relationships

Every interaction your company has with a customer gives you a chance to deepen your relationship. Once you understand this, you can find ways to turn angry customers into lifelong buyers. You may need to bite your tongue, apologize profusely or send free gifts to make it happen. In the long run, it's worth the effort.

Great customer service doesn't happen over night. You can, however, start making improvements today. Identify ways that your customer services fail to meet expectations. Once you know what mistakes you're making, you can create a new strategy that will improve your brand, help you retain customers and attract new shoppers so you can grow your ecommerce business.

Have any questions about providing great customer service? Leave us a comment!