Topic overview

Customer care

Barista handing a coffee to two happy customers

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop a loyal customer base and improve relationships with your customers.

In a competitive market, it can be tempting to chase new business. However, to boost revenue and profitability in your business, your best bet is to focus on customer retention and build up customer loyalty.

Loyal customers come back time and again; they will also promote your business through word-of-mouth recommendation. By building a long-term customer base, you can reduce the costs of looking for new customers and improve your bottom line.

Good service helps turn customers into ambassadors for your business - they will buy your products and services regularly and give you valuable feedback on your performance as well as supporting you through good times and bad.

To turn a satisfied customer into a repeat buyer, you need to offer great service based on a deep understanding of your customers' needs. Price and product are important, but it is service that gives you the edge over your competitors.

Customer satisfaction

Good customer service is about managing the perceptions of your customers and giving them a positive experience of doing business with you. Are your staff friendly and professional? Are your products and services up to scratch? Do you deliver what you promise?

Getting this right is vital. To create satisfied customers, you need to establish a relationship with them and create good rapport. Then you need to exceed their expectations at every turn.

Every business makes promises to its customers, whether tacit or implied. Make sure you are delivering results. A good rule of thumb is to under-promise and over-deliver.

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Customer relationships

Even the smallest business needs to plan and control its customer communications. Customer relationship management (CRM) is not the preserve of big corporations. To succeed, every business needs to take a customer-centric approach and build good relationships with their customers based on trust.

You have to work at customer relationships. Never take your best customers for granted. Keep communicating with them so you can respond as their needs change and reward them for their loyalty.

Some social media schedulers such as Sprout Social, have social customer care capabilities where you can deliver faster, personalised customer service right where customers choose to reach out to you.

Unhappy customers don't usually complain, most just go elsewhere. Others not only complain, but demand action and possibly compensation and may do so publically using social media. Most businesses handle complaints badly. Set up a customer complaints procedure and respond promptly. Resolve the issue so that you don't make the same mistake twice and tell the customer how you have dealt with it. It is essential to have a procedure for dealing with bad publicity and situations where a customer has taken to social media to bad-mouth the business- even for a small company. Saying nothing can make it look like you are hiding something but responding inappropriately can also add fuel to the issue and lead to it gaining more momentum.

At the same time, don't wait until someone complains to make improvements. Encourage continuous feedback and be proactive about improving how you do business. Regular customer contact is vital and customer satisfaction surveys are a good way to find out how your business is seen by others. Regular surveys should elicit real responses, so ensure they can express their feelings in words as well as by ticking boxes.

Loyalty schemes allow you to focus on your best customers. These customers buy more and are more profitable than those who may only respond to discounts. What's more, highly satisfied customers are more receptive to cross-selling and up-selling.

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