Going the Extra Mile for your Customers

One of the current conundrums for small businesses is how to cut costs without letting customer service standards slip. In a recent survey of 2000 consumers by the accountancy software company Sage UK, they found that customer service performance was becoming even more important. Nearly a third of their sample reported that they wouldn't give a second chance to suppliers who let them down in some way.

Consumers are Getting More Demanding

Providing outstanding customer service has always been an important factor in business success. Keeping your customers happy brings you repeat business and saves on the time and money needed for marketing and pitching for new contracts. Now it seems that consumers are seeking more for their money in terms of the type of service they receive, both when they buy and following a purchase.

The basics of good customer service are just being polite, helpful and responsive to the customer's concerns. Whatever pressures you and you staff are under, they must be put out of mind at times of interaction with customers, so that you can all appear upbeat and friendly, and listen to what the customer is saying. In the Sage survey, only 22% believed that businesses they dealt with were giving outstanding service while riding out the economic downturn.

The Extra Mile Campaign

Sage's extra mile campaign has been launched to provide some recognition for companies providing good customer service. You and your customers can use the #extramile hashtag on Twitter to get public appreciation where you think it's deserved.

If you'd like to be nominated, get your staff to brush up their customer service practices. Set a good example by treating your personnel the way you'd like them to treat your customers. Welcome them each day with a friendly smile; get to know them by name and remember their birthdays and other things that matter to them; listen to their niggles and deal with them; ask for their feedback and give them credit for useful ideas.

Make yourself available to customers too, and always be ready to deal with complaints in a way that doesn't leave them feeling let down. Remember that statistic about not getting a second chance. Here's another one that comes from a different survey: of customers who are satisfied that their complaints are dealt with quickly and reasonably, 72% will continue to use the company they complained to.

Are you going the extra mile for your customers? Who would you nominate for the Sage UK extra mile campaign? Perhaps it will be your outsourced bookkeepers.

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