How customer service can improve growth of SMEs

By Damian Hanson, above, Co-Founder & Director of CircleLoop

SMEs make up 99.9% of the business population in the UK, accounting for significant economic growth. To stand out from other businesses in 2023, providing outstanding customer service is essential. According to Netomi, 77% of consumers think good customer service is critical to earning brand loyalty and generating business.

So how can SMEs deliver outstanding customer service during these challenging times and what are the benefits of implementing excellent customer service in your business?

Reap the rewards of outstanding customer service

To stand out, SMEs need to strive to deliver exceptional customer service to stay one step ahead of their competitors. Whether it’s through understanding and meeting customer needs, hiring and training customer-focused employees or encouraging and responding quickly to customer feedback, SMEs need to put their customer service at the front of their minds.

By prioritising customer satisfaction and building customer loyalty, SMEs can enhance their reputation and benefit from positive word-of-mouth referrals. These referrals, both in person and via social media, can lead to increased sales and profits for the business. Data suggests that 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase when referred through social media.

In short, in today’s corporate environment investing in tools that help your business to offer  exceptional customer service can yield enormous rewards over time.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

How can SMEs offer excellent customer service? 

Here are a few ways SMEs should concentrate on providing superior customer service, which will become a crucial distinction from competitors.

Hiring and training customer-focused people

Customers frequently form their opinions of a company’s products and services based on the behaviour and attitude of their employees. SMEs should seek out people with a strong approach to communication, a welcoming and professional demeanour, and a sincere desire to assist others. SMEs can ensure that their customers receive consistent, high-quality service, no matter who they interact with. Investing in hiring and training customer-focused staff will help SMEs stand out in a crowded market.

Recognising and addressing the needs of the customer

SMEs  can differentiate themselves from the competition by giving each customer a personalised experience by taking the time to learn their needs and preferences. According to Segment, 70% of customers dislike having an impersonal purchasing experience. Customers’ demands and expectations should not be ignored by businesses.

This can be achieved through various means such as personalised recommendations, customised promotions, and proactive communication. By tailoring your customers’ experiences, SMEs can show how they value their business and are committed to delivering exceptional service.

Gather and encourage customer feedback

The best method to improve and change your customer experience over time is to listen to your customers’ feedback and act on it. Feedback can come from a variety of places but should always be taken seriously and considered as part of your service improvement plans. SMEs need to be aware of where these conversations are happening, and whether the feedback is favourable or not. 75% of internet users use social media for brand research and are inclined to base decisions on what other people have to say. Businesses must actively work to address complaints if there are any, as opposed to just dismissing them.

While the phone remains a prominent communication channel, businesses shouldn’t disregard their social presence as more consumers attempt to connect with brands online. Identifying your desired outcomes through feedback and outlining the process for getting there is an ideal way to bring more value to customers.

Utilising technology to improve customer experience

Having an effective phone system is crucial for your customer service strategy. As seen on our Chatterbox Matrix, many businesses are reliant on picking up the phone to conduct business, and customers prefer speaking on the phone to voice their concerns.

Companies should be equipped with the technology and tools needed to provide the quality of customer care that consumers want. A flexible phone system that runs on the cloud can provide improved customer interaction for all staff from any location. The effectiveness of client outreach can be increased by integrating CRM technologies to deliver more value with each interaction and track successes to be replicated in the future.

Moving forward…

As SME’s try to stand out in a competitive market and during challenging economic times, providing the best level of customer service is a task that calls for careful consideration. Factors must be taken into account in striking a balance between price and quality to guarantee that customer service is improved without incurring unnecessary costs or wasted resources.

Businesses who are customer-centric and who invest in their customer communication will see greater success through the challenging times ahead.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024