It’s nothing new that small business owners need a way to make their businesses stand out from the crowd.
Once your workflow is running smoothly, inventory management is in line and the staff is whistling while they work, it’s time to shift your focus to client management: Examine your work processes from start to finish, addressing any weak areas that are frustrating, confusing, or problematic to the customer.
This time investment, according to Client Heartbeat, can benefit a business by increased retention, higher referral rates, and overall better customer satisfaction. Here are four ways small businesses can improve their client experience:
1. Easy Invoicing
You don’t want to hound your clients for payment, particularly if you expect the client has already made payment and the delay lies within your accounting department. Look into invoicing software programs that handle the heavy lifting of bookkeeping and accounting for you. In addition to keeping all of your accounting information neatly in one place, this type of software assists you by creating professional invoices, integrating with payment processors to give your clients an easy way to remit payment, and allowing easy access to information needed to file taxes. This also makes it easy to see how much volume you’re doing per client, in order to target your larger accounts or encourage growth in smaller clients.
2. Subject Matter Experts
Turn your employees into subject matter experts so your clients recognize your staff as well-trained and informed. Continue training employees even after they get onboarded into your company. Cover continued education courses in your field, and provide other opportunities for your employees to learn the business. When your front line has a strong base of knowledge, it builds client confidence. Consider having thought leaders in your field who can contribute to training opportunities and offer diverse perspectives.
3. Effective Customer Relationship Management
Bell recommends taking a full view of your clients so you know when your relationship started, what types of products they order, their contact information, and other significant pieces of information. When you have as much information as possible loaded into CRM software, it’s easy to target marketing and advertising while staying engaged. A simple gesture such as sending along a gift during your working anniversary keeps you on their radar and builds on the client experience. When you give a personalized approach it helps the client feel valued and appreciated.
4. Customer Service Availability
After-purchase support is an essential part of client retention. Ensure your clients get the support they need by providing thorough customer service coverage. If 24/7 customer support is not in the cards for your business, supplement your existing support options with an in-depth website or fact sheet covering frequently asked questions, as well as a community support board to help fill in the gaps between your customer service hours.
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Gordy is a computer jack-of-all-trades. He owns a small computer repair store, writes about Internet trends, and consults for anti-virus companies.