Customer service is something that nobody likes to deal with, but is important to every business operation. You could have the best product in the world but if you struggle to work with your own customers then you’re not going to get far. This goes double for small businesses.

We all have horror stories on both ends of customer service, either you dealt with a particularly irate customer or you’ve had to deal with a particularly unhelpful rep. To avoid any of the pitfalls and follies that come with poor customer service, take a look at these tips and see if there’s anything you could do to improve your business.

Listen to your customers

What’s the only thing worse than having a problem? When people don’t believe that you have a problem. If someone is calling or emailing that they have a problem and you’re dismissive or you doubt the authenticity then no one is getting anything out of that exchange.

It’s easy, especially for small businesses, to think that people are out to get one over on you but by dismissing a customer outright you’re only going to annoy them. Small businesses are typically more defensive in this regard, due to the already thin margins, but by listening to your customers you’ll quickly come to see that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Slow and steady

You might be dealing with a common and easily rectified complaint, but if you’re hurling the answers straight back in your customers face then they’re not going to feel valued are they. Think of ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’ and how that makes you feel.

You need to listen to them as though theirs is the only complaint and this is the first time you’re hearing it, be respectful and wait for them to tell you exactly what it is, rather than jumping the gun.

Not too slow and steady

Of course, the flipside of being too fast, is being too slow. This may sound slightly paradoxical but there is a middle ground between bombarding your customers with information and failing to give them the support they need in a reasonable time.

Depending on the problem this window may vary but if you use some common sense and listen to your customers, you should have no trouble providing them with the answers they need.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

You’ve probably heard that instant messaging platforms, particularly Facebook Messenger, is the future of customer service, and this is true to an extent. Remember that a lot of the companies embracing this new method of customer service are giant businesses who can afford to staff their IM services 24/7.

If you feel that you can reasonably stay in contact at all hours then that’s great, if not then it might be worth looking for an avenue. Going back to our first point, the only thing worse than having a problem is when people won’t even listen to what your problem is.

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