Customer service: Golden rules for small businesses

Customer service: Golden rules for small businesses

Posted: Thu 11th May 2023

If you're looking for ways to stand out from your competitors, it's well worth focusing on customer service as a differentiator. But how do you make sure yours has the wow factor?

It goes without saying that customer service is absolutely vital to your business's success. It's been shown over and over that a company's growth and success is directly connected to the quality of its customer service and support.

Basically, if your service is bad, your business will suffer. It might seem simple, but there are many easy mistakes that can put customers off. Here are our golden rules to help you get your customer service right, every time.

Respond quickly

When a customer emails you, make sure you respond within a business day. If you leave them waiting any longer, they're likely to go elsewhere. And always respond in a succinct and professional manner.

Don't leave customers unsatisfied

If a customer contacts you, make sure you deal with their problem or query as quickly as possible. Happy customers will keep coming back to you and are more likely to recommend you to friends and family.

Put yourself in the customer's shoes

Too often, businesses look at things from their own view rather from the customer's perspective. That can be as simple as transparency or friendliness.

As a customer, when you contact a business, you want to know that the person on the other end is going to take your issues away. As a business, if you can give that confidence to your customers, you can make them very happy.

Know that experience is more important than price

If you treat your customers well and make sure you've dealt with them professionally and efficiently, it's likely they'd pay more for a service than they would if they received bad service elsewhere.


Watch this webinar to find out why and how customer focus is the route to success for your business:


Make it easy

Making sure that the front end of your customer service is user-friendly is paramount.

The easier it is for the customer to speak to the person or department they want, the more likely they'll be to want to keep their business with you and continue contacting you in future. As such, you should make sure the right contact details are on your website and easy for people to find.

The goal is to make things as effortless as possible, whatever channel the customer chooses to use. The overarching lesson here? Minimise the clicks.

Be nice

It may sound simple, but if you treat your customers nicely, they'll respond in kind, making for a pleasant and loyal relationship between the two of you.

Understand that customers need to be looked after

When you come across great customer service, you remember how it feels. From the moment you speak to or meet a customer, it's crucial to look after their needs.

You'd be amazed at the number of businesses who don't greet their customers well. This can be a particular issue when companies become established and lose the original reason why they were different. But you don't have to lose this, you just have to work that little bit harder.

Know what you're talking about

If you have staff working for you, make sure they're trained and up-to-date with your company's business and products. If a customer gets in touch with a problem, whoever answers the phone or is responsible for replying to emails or social media messages must be able to help them.

An unsatisfied customer is more likely to tell friends about bad customer service than a satisfied customer is to spread word about a good experience.

Recruit for attitude

If your employees have the right attitude, you can teach them anything. After that, they'll follow your lead.

When you recruit someone new, it's likely they'll come in and copy the other people who already work there – but clearly the ethos has to be well established. If it isn't, the new staff member will simply mirror people's bad habits.

It's all about making sure that your staff represent your brand's ethos and culture. Without the right people, you're doomed to fail, so be selective in hiring people who align with your values. If you can hire fans of your company, you're onto a winner!

The paramount attribute you should be looking for in any customer service member is trust. If you have the right people, arm them with the necessary tools and trust them to keep your customers happy. Also, remind your employees what 'good' looks like. In fact, remind them what 'great' is!

Listen to feedback – and respond

If you ever receive customer feedback – particularly if it's a complaint – take the information on board and use it to improve your business.

These days, a good way to handle customer feedback is through social media. Even if you have a problem customer, if you deal with it effectively and openly, they can become your biggest advocate.

Businesses are defined by their ability to recover. If a customer is unhappy, chances are they will turn to social media. And before you know it, a small problem has escalated.

Clearly, angry customers aren't what you want. And inevitably, you're going to get some. But the best course of action is to listen and let them vent, to ease the situation. If you're unable to fix the problem, let the customer know that if you can't find something that works for them, they'll get their money back.

You can have a whole host of 'solutions' to people's potential problems, but at the end of the day sometimes a refund is your only option. You simply have to make customers understand that you're on their side, you're there to help and that you'll do everything you can to fix their problem.

Better service saves money

The happier your employees, the happier your customers. Your employees are the front line of your business, so make sure they're satisfied and well trained. That way, you're more likely to retain your existing customers and attract new ones.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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