How SMEs can win at customer service

Amanda McCall  takes a closer look at the importance of great customer service for SMEs, and how they can use it to beat big businesses.

Since the dawn of business, there has been a little guy who has struggled against an enterprise with a bigger market share and a wider reach. In these situations, the bigger fish are usually able to win on several fronts, having the ability to offer a lower price or a wider product range. However, there has always been an area in which the smaller business can outshine its larger competitor: customer service.

A survey from American Express found that three in five people would be willing to try a new brand for better service, while around half of consumers would use a company more frequently after a positive customer experience, according to research by NewVoiceMedia.  This is something SMEs can really excel at, and these two statistics show it can be used to both attract and retain customers. So, what can SMEs do to really use this to their advantage? Read on to find out more.

Understanding your customers’ needs

As most SMEs are operating with a smaller customer base, they can afford to be flexible to meet their customers’ needs. Larger businesses often make use of a one size fits all approach to their service so, if you can provide something that is more tailored, you can make your customers feel really valued as a result. You can still put a framework in place for your employees to deal with clients — just be sure to make it loose enough to adapt to individual requirements.

Prioritising good communication

By prioritising communication with your customers, you can ensure that your company has a human face, and doesn’t suffer from the automated, robotic experience that many larger corporations offer. This can be done in a lot of ways, from directly engaging with them on social media to making sure there is a real human at the end of the phone to personally handle orders or complaints. At Gifts International, we always make sure we have someone available to do the latter, and it plays an important role in achieving our high customer retention rate.

Recruit enthusiastic staff and invest in them

To be able to pull off some good old-fashioned customer service, you need to have the right team to handle orders, comments, and complaints. You will only be able to deliver your very best if you have employed enthusiastic and knowledgeable people who really love to provide great service. When it comes to hiring new staff at Gifts International, we always look for this attitude before anything else, and it has allowed us to assemble a great team.

You also need to make sure that you continue to invest in your service staff too, giving them the chance to progress and develop. Provide regular product training, mentoring for new staff, and an appraisal system to help your employees reach their potential. By doing this, you can preserve their positive attitude and prevent them from becoming disillusioned, all while progressing your customer service team.

So, there you have it: three ways that SMEs can enhance their customer service to compete with larger companies. Put your customer experience first and you will be able to punch well above your weight. See our previous article on why your small business might be losing out to corporations.

Amanda McCall is a director at Gifts International, a retail business that focuses on providing meaningful, delivered gifts for their customers.