Why it’s not enough to do enough. Taking your customer service to the next level.

October 27, 2015

We live in an accountable world. A world where our businesses are expected to be as open and transparent as possible and where, should we choose a different path, our reputation is at stake; often ravaged by social media warriors who make the medium their battlefield of choice.

No longer is the notion of creating a fluid, impressive and consistent customer experience reserved for the “brands” of the world.

Small businesses are becoming more and more accountable for delivering a pleasing overall pre & post purchase experience as much as they are for actually delivering the actual products or services they sell.

Perhaps the most important part of this experience is the small business post purchase process, a process from which we can either create a raving fan or, sadly, relegate a customer to a one-time buyer.

In what is perhaps the most challenging dichotomy we face as small business people, we have to craft a process and dedicate time to after sales and customer service without a team of people and without taking our eyes off the “new sales” ball that contributes so heavily to our bottom line.

New sales are vital to any business, of course, but each of us know how much easier & cost effective it is to generate revenue from current clients than to convert a new prospect to a paying customer.

Yet so many businesses neglect the current customer.

So many of us take for granted that these customers will simply come back to us when the “time is right”; that they “know where we are”.

Of course, this kind of approach leaves our business in a precarious position: in fighting for new prospects and leads, our clients become the new prospects and leads of our competitors. Competitors who may have a retention strategy significantly better than ours, thus lowering the chances of us poaching that client back at a later date.

Truly, doing enough is no longer enough.

People buy from people. Again and again.

I've spoken on this a fair bit and it does seem to be a recurring theme throughout much of the content I create – I believe in it that much.

We all try to market with this in mind.

That ideal should be what drives our prospecting and of course, it should be what drives our ongoing customer service and retention activities.

Yet I truly believe that many of us either forget, or shy away from that notion when it comes to customer service.

Often, customer service is a reaction.

It is often nothing more than a response to a problem and we often forget our core principles, forcing us to react in different ways depending on our personality.

With our customer service hat on, defensiveness, anxiety, overcompensation and rash thought often creep in, especially as a small business owner who may be undertaking the customer service duties on top of other tasks demanding our attention.

And this is when we simply do enough.

We get through the query, the issue or perish the thought, the complaint.

We deliver just enough to get past it, with the overriding thought being getting to our next task quickly.

Often, this is fine. Customers are placated and we feel great about having avoided a problem.

I'd challenge: who really wants “fine”?

As a customer ourselves, we want to be “wowed”; to be made to feel like we're the single most important part of the day to anyone with whom we deal.

But as a small business owner, we believe that this is too much work; it'll take too much time; “what difference does it make?”.

Consider this: are you truly happy servicing your customers in a way that is just good enough?

And if you really, truly are ok with that – ask yourself: are your competitors? Are your customers ok with being treated like that?

It's a startling truth that the world in which we live is ever levelling the playing field, forever forcing us to create points of differentiation from our competitors.

Customers living in this world are increasingly more demanding, more value led and more willing to work with small businesses who treat them as friends.

Doing enough is simply not enough.

Anticipation is the key

Consider this: you're an expert. We're all experts in what we choose to ply.

We have done this long enough to understand exactly what issues / problems / barriers our customers will face throughout the lifecycle of purchase through to the second, third and fourth sale.

We also know the types of questions our customers ask, the reasons why they may choose to buy from us again and more importantly, why they may choose not to buy from us again.

We know our business and our values. We know where we excel and we know where we're weaker.

Customer service shouldn't merely be about reaction. We have the tools we need to proactively serve our customers, every single day, by adding value to their lives.

Create content that answers questions your customers don't even know they have yet. Have conversations that uncover issues that perhaps they haven't yet told you about.

Set aside some time every week, heck every day if you can, to speak to your customers and ask them how they're doing – no ulterior motive.

You'll be surprised how many people throw in a “Oh hey, whilst I've got you, I do have a question…”.

Serve. Surprise. Please.

It's not enough to do enough.

Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel.

Mark Asquith

That British podcast guy, Mark is co-founder of Captivate.fm, the world's only growth-oriented podcast host. A Harvard, TEDx, Podcast Movement and Podfest speaker (amongst many more!), he's a wildly approachable Brit and Star Wars/DC Comics geek.

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