Nearly half of all Americans are employed by small business owners and nearly 2/3rds of all new jobs created each year are small business jobs. The backbone of the country is directly dependent on the success of these roughly 30 million small business companies. Small Business Week is an opportunity to recognize the significance historically and modern importance of small businesses in this country. Since its creation in 1963, the number of small businesses in this country has continued to rise, decade by decade. Today, numbers are higher than ever.
Here are some Small Business tips to help maintain the growth of your small business.
1. Develop a standardized language for employees to use for customer interactions:
Probably one of the biggest ways to help with customer acquisition and retention is ensuring all employees are using the same communication techniques when dealing with customers. Make sure all opening interactions with customers are consistent and include dialogue that is both non-threatening and cheerful in tone. It’s a good idea to have employees work from an approved script and include examples for interacting with customers at every stage of the sale or support process.
Be sure to cover greetings, questions about orders, requests for returns and refunds, terms and conditions. Clearly define words to stay away from when responding to customers. Words like “should”, “have to”, “can’t”, “try”, “wait” or “hold” are to be avoided while conversing with customers. Avoid accusatory language when talking to customers and avoid using the word “you” whenever possible.
Also, it’s a good idea to develop an effective playbook for dealing with customers who display anger, hostility or distress. Set firm guidelines on what can and should be acceptable customer behavior and layout a set of thorough replies. Be sure to instruct employees to be cautious when responding to customers who use foul language. It’s a good idea to adopt a set of canned responses with warnings to the customer to use as replies for these situations. As always, the language used to communicate with emotional customers should display a sense of calm and respect. Be sure to be firm and outline as early as possible what can and will be acceptable language employees can use when dealing with irate customers.
2. Respond to customers’ inquiries immediately:
It takes a lot of effort, time and money to make people aware of your brand and products and even more time to bring those people to your website. With conversion numbers typically so incredibly low for an average small business, every company should be doing whatever they can to ensure when prospective customers call, email or post via social media or visit your website that you are prepared to do what you reasonably can to turn that person into a paying customer. This includes making sure that inquiries are captured and responded to immediately.
It can often be difficult for companies, especially small companies with limited resources to be able to cover all the ways customers can contact their companies. However, not spending the time and resources to ensure that all those who reach out are responded to in a timely manner ultimately means losing business and increasing the likelihood of accumulating a negative reputation. That’s why it’s critical to have a plan so you can respond to inquiries as soon as possible.
List out all social media and review platforms your business participates in and utilize software or services, like Later.com, TweetDeck or email notifications in order to be notified the instant someone submits a question, concern or review. Have someone available to reply promptly, within the first three minutes, even if you are overburdened at the moment. It’s critical that you acknowledge as soon as possible a customer’s comment or question and let them know that their input, question or query is valuable and that someone will respond to them as soon as possible.
With so many prospective customers looking up company profiles, ratings and reviews it’s critical these days to get in front of potential negative replies and reviews.
3. Include the necessary resources that allow customers to find the support they need themselves:
There’s no way around it, some customers will always need support. Not offering sufficient support documentation can lead to a waste of company resources as unnecessary time will ultimately be spent in handling customer issues. Here are some tips for helping your customer sales and support staff by minimizing the need for direct customer support.
- Be sure to include a link prominently to your company’s Terms and Service and where possible, add tool-tips with relevant terms and service information strategically in the sales and support funnel on your site.
- For customers that call in for sales and support, be sure to include an answering service with either an automated or physical response system that includes menu options that clearly define options such as “customer sales”, “returns”, “terms and service info”, “complaints”, “refunds”, “technical support” and “general inquires”.
- Include a comprehensive FAQ on your website with thorough “How To” documentation for everything from sales and support to how-to and important product ordering information.
- Add documentation with visual instructions for ordering at the beginning of the ordering process.
- Include FAQ, How-To, Terms of Service and ordering documentation to social media accounts and routinely use social media to promote instructions and tips for ordering and support.
Including Q & A related support information on your website and social media accounts can dramatically reduce the amount of time your employees spend dealing with customer support related issues. So, it’s wise to make sure the most prominent questions and concerns are documented and are used to create instructional, supportive content on your website.
4. Put a human face on your business:
Brand recognition is critical to a company’s success and a great way for people to remember your brand is to put someone front and center as the face of the company. Visibility matters to prospective customers. People want not only a brand they can recognize, they want a face that can be associated with that brand. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Tony Hsieh at Zappos, Bill Gates at Microsoft or Elon Musk at Tesla, the person in front of the brand is often just as important and as recognizable as the brand itself. So, consider promoting someone within your company, preferably the CEO, as the face of the company; someone customers can identify with, feel comfortable with and will be at ease with when ordering.
5. Show appreciation for your employees:
This one should be a no brainer. A company’s success depends on its employees. So, treat them as you would treat your company itself. Thank your employees whenever they do something worthy of praise and just randomly give thanks to employees on a regular basis. Routinely give your employees treats, snacks and setup themed days at the office, like the recent Taco Tuesday we had here in the corporate offices at Overnight Prints. Get a PR boost by showing your employee appreciation publicly. Promote an employee’s accomplishment by issuing a press release or doing a blog post about them.
6. Partner with other small businesses:
Creating and nurturing relationships with other small businesses provides you the opportunity to take advantage of the expertise, products and services that your company just doesn’t have. Partnerships offer mutually beneficial alliances that can often offer your company a competitive advantage over competition.
Partnering with other businesses also affords your company the opportunity to share marketing resources, support staff, advertising, analytics and increase brand recognition. Taking advantage of a strategic partnership can enable your company to build, grow and evolve new ways to run your business. Reaching out to other companies in your community allows your business to expand brand awareness and opens opportunities for cross-customer acquisition and product promotion.
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From one small business to another, we’re here to help you grow. Shop OvernightPrints.com for all your print marketing needs.