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The 4 Biggest Customer Service Challenges for Small Businesses

Dedicating the time and resources to provide consistently great customer service can be a challenge for small businesses. Here are four of the biggest customer service hurdles in the world of small biz.

Image of a businesswoman struggling with small business customer service challenges

According to a customer service barometer done by American Express, four out of five Americans expect small businesses to provide better customer service than their larger competitors. “The charm of doing business with small businesses being that personal touch,” you might say.  Unfortunately, with small companies tending to have more limited resources, those notably higher expectations of customer support can spell trouble for the small business trying to survive and compete.

But the bottom line is, your customers don’t care what your company’s resource limitations are. So when your small business doesn’t provide the customer service people expect, chances are they will look for another provider that will. In fact, nearly eighty percent of customers have switched to a competitor because of poor customer service.

The question is, how do small businesses deal with this customer service conundrum?

Here Are 4 of the Biggest Customer Service Challenges that Small Businesses Face – And Possible Solutions

  1. Simply Answering the Phones. Customers and potential customers get so frustrated by automated phone directories and voicemail systems that two-thirds of people are likely to just hang up because their call was not taken by a real person.  However, when your resources are limited, having an automated menu in place to filter your calls can be a very tempting bandage. Luckily, many savvy small business owners have begun using a more caller friendly alternative through affordable and effective live answering services. By carefully picking a partner with a proven track record for success, companies have found that they are able to meet and even exceed the high level of customer support expectations that come from being a smaller business. With an answering service like Sound Telecom, businesses have been able to expand their hours of phone support availability and are now connecting their callers to a live support agent 24/7/365.
  1. Connecting Callers Promptly to The Proper Person and Place. Having an organized system for patching through and handing off callers is another challenge small businesses face in providing customer service. Most callers, nearly four out of five, expect their issue to be resolved after one interaction. This is a challenge for small businesses, whose expertise is in their product, not customer service. Organize and systematize the way calls are routed so nothing ever gets missed. But how? A skilled virtual receptionist can go beyond just creating a system for handling calls coming in. They can also set up the most efficient way to connect a caller to the right person who can address their particular concern if escalation is necessary.
  1. Providing Personalized Service. Customers, more and more, expect a personal touch when speaking to representatives of a business. 45 percent of people say that a personalized customer service experience is the most important part of having a positive interaction. Yet only 21 percent of people in a ContactPoint Client Research study said that customer service representatives called them by name or thanked them. But, personalizing each call requires resources that many small businesses do not have. It takes the proper programs, logs and client history right at the touch of a button, as well as an experienced professional who can put all those pieces together during the call. Outsourcing your customer phone support to a specialized call center partner can give your small business access to the expertise and resources needed to provide personalized service.
  1. Evaluating Your Level of Customer Service. How can you know how satisfied your customers are when handling customer service as a small business? The time it takes simply trying to provide service is one thing. Grading yourself, and knowing what you could do better, is another thing entirely. Effectively evaluating your customer service can affect your bottom line drastically.

On one hand, unhappy customers are unlikely to tell you that they have an issue with your service before they leave your business. In fact, studies show that ninety-one percent of unsatisfied customers simply leave, and only 9 percent will bother complaining before leaving. The ones who complain are doing you and your business a service by alerting you to what you are doing wrong. But what about the other 9 out of 10 you that never say a word and are just lost customers?

By implementing an effective answering service, your business can institute things like surveys, seeking feedback and letting you grade your performance while showing your callers you care about their experience. Knowing how your small businesses is doing in your customers’ eyes can be a critical turning point for the success of your company. It could provide just the insight you need to adapt and change into a company driven by customer satisfaction and retention, rather than becoming the cautionary tale other companies learn from.

Accept the Challenge, Meet Customer Service Expectations

Starting and running a small business is tough enough without adding on higher expectations of a greater level of customer service than the big dogs. Luckily, there are a few ways you can step up your game and rise to the challenge. By implementing just a few basic tactics along with connecting your business with some world-class, yet affordable resources, you can meet the challenges of customer service head on, all while putting a smile on your customers’ faces.

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About David Kent

A writer at heart and entrepreneur by trade, David started his first company at the young age of 22; providing marketing services for a variety of events and businesses before being recognized and picked up by a National sport clothing manufacturer. After putting a few successful years of marketing and brand management under his belt, he ventured out seeking new challenges building and running eCommerce businesses. Having spent nearly his entire adult life at the company helm, David now enjoys writing articles to help other business owners by sharing some of the hard lessons he has learned along the way. When he doesn’t have his nose to the grindstone, you can probably find him cooking up something strange and healthy in the kitchen or training for the next obstacle course race.