Make Excellent Customer Service Your Top Priority For Sure Fire Success
If you are a newbie entrepreneur, the chances are that you are knee deep in the documentation, business planning, and vision constructing. To make a success of your new business venture, you need to be willing to put in the hours and drive forward something unique in order to compete with your well established industry rivals. It doesn’t matter if you are importing ball bearings from China or selling custom made tee shirts for university students, you will need a comprehensive strategy to take your business forward.
Being new to the scene can be daunting, especially when eight out of every ten new businesses fail within their first eighteen months of trading. Surely, all of these businesses made accurate financial projections and were willing to construct a well thought out business model. So, why did they falter? The answer may be in their lack of customer service provision. With finances, funding and marketing being top priorities in most startup plans, the provision of an excellent customer experience can somehow get lost. Ensure that this doesn’t happen to your venture, and you stand a better chance of long term success.
As a new business, you need to cement your reputation quickly. The easiest way to do this is by providing an exceptional customer experience for your end user. Say you are selling handmade jewelry online and you need to deliver your product to your end user. By using a logistics firm that provides reliable 3PL warehousing, you can store your product and ship it out at a moment’s notice. Forget about using the cheapest storage options and go for a provider that utilizes sound logistical management practices.
Your reputation is worth everything. In the twenty first century, more and more people are heading online to impartial third party sites to check out the feedback and reviews of companies. Before people buy from you, they will do the same. As a new name on the industry block, people will be even more wary of purchasing from you as you are an unknown entity. It’s vital that you can make a name for yourself quickly by encouraging feedback. Offer a discount or incentivize with free delivery if a customer leaves a review of your service.
Try and maximize the chances of a positive review by under promising and over delivering. If you know that you can deliver a product in two days, state that you’ll have it on your end user’s doorstep in three. This way, when it arrives a day early, it will appear like you have gone the extra mile. Put a little freebie in your parcels and package your product well. Forget cheap and nasty fillers in your packaging and use the eco friendly and high quality cushioning that will ensure that your product arrives undamaged. Creating a warm fuzzy feeling in your customer makes them feel positive about you and makes them more likely to recommend you to friends and family. Word of mouth is still the Holy Grail of recommendations as it is tangible.
Always communicate effectively with your customers. This could be through an email newsletter, through social media channels or via complaints procedures. As a new startup, you need to formulate a policy that every staff member will follow.
As a user of social media, you should have business accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each platform is an excellent way to market your brand and show off your wares. Instagram allows you to use filters to create a seductive and appealing lifestyle choice for your customer using your product as a focal point for this vision. For a digital marketing strategy, they are paramount. However, they are also excellent tools through which you can communicate with your customers. It only takes one complaint via Twitter that does not receive a response from you to make you look shoddy. Forget about ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Social media is a public sphere that all potential customers will see.
Instead, respond to customers promptly. Offer to DM an individual, and follow up with an email. Give your customer time scales in which to investigate a complaint, and never be afraid to say sorry. Mistakes do happen. If you were late with a delivery, apologize and refund the delivery charge. This is a no brainer and leaves both parties content.
Check Out The Competition
The easiest way to see the sort of customer service provision that works is by checking out your rivals and what they do. Pretend to be a customer and order a product from a competitor. How do they provide customer service from ordering all the way through to delivery. You may find that they have a tracking system, they may email or text you once every delivery stage has been met, and they may get in touch with a personal follow up phone call. These elements of customer service make the people who order from you feel valued and less of a mere number, and rather a real life human being.
Take those elements that work with your competitor and mold them into your own brand’s ethos. Delivering products wholesale and to an end user will need different practical aspects to customer service and supply chain management, but the desire for the exceptional should never go away.
Your business plan may be well on the way to being completed. You have probably focused on your revenue for the next three years, your profit projections and your potential funding route. It’s all very well and good securing funding from a business angel, but what use is this if no one is ordering from you because your products aren’t packaged well and they are delivered late or not at all. Prioritize customer service in your business plan and communicate with your niche market. These are the people that will essentially make you a living. Treat them with respect and be excellent at what you do. Strive for the best to be the best.