An SME's Guide to Excellent Customer Service

An SME's Guide to Excellent Customer Service

Providing excellent customer service leads to higher retention rates and loyalty as well as attracting new customers. Here are our top tips on how to deliver an exceptional customer experience

By Natasha Deaves

As a business owner, it's vital to remember that every interaction a customer has with your business contributes to their overall customer journey. Crucially, you need to make sure that the customer's journey is consistent, and even exceeds their expectations. To achieve this, it's important to understand what customer service truly means in an SME environment. 

What is customer service?

Customer service is the first part of a customer's journey. This is the standard offered to customers when first interacting with them, such as the advice and assistance you are providing them with. It's vital to ensure that their interactions with your team and business are of excellent quality so that they trust your brand and want to continue engaging with your business.

What is customer care?

Next, we have customer care. This is the lesser-used term; however, it is a crucial step to achieving excellent customer service. This is all about how well the customers are taken care of whilst dealing with the company. 

It's about building and maintaining that relationship with your customers. Go beyond expectations when faced with an issue, as this will help you build an emotional connection. Emotional connections are extremely powerful. This is what makes your customers go away and want to share how fantastic you are either through word-of-mouth or online reviews. 

Think of the last time you were treated so well by a company you wanted to tell everyone about how brilliant they were, how well they handled everything, how the exceeded your expectations; this is what you want your customers to do. You want your customers to go away and tell everyone about you and your brand and what you did to help them.

What is customer experience?

The final part of the customer journey is all about the customer experience. This is the measurement of a customer's physical, emotional, and psychological connection to your overall brand. It is the feeling your customers have gone away with after they purchased a product or received a service from your business. 

This is what determines the type of feedback you receive. Think about this as the end goal throughout all contact with the customers. 

Delivering an exceptional customer experience

Now the question is, how can we exceed the customers' expectations and deliver an exceptional customer experience? Here are two key elements to bear in mind:

1. Think like a customer
Initially, you will have to put yourself in the place of your customers. Think about the customer's first experience with your brand or company, whether it is walking into your building or viewing your website. What do you want that first impression to be? 

First impressions create the minimum standard, after that, every contact you have with the customer should push that standard higher.

2. Train your team
Then you want to push the message out to your coworkers and employees. The best way to do this is to train and then train some more to ensure that the high standard of exceptional customer experience is rolled out to every department. 

Consider employing a customer service specialist who keeps reports on training and progress, and who is a fitting example of the customer service experience you want to promote.

Consistency is key, if there is one weak link in a chain then it is no longer as strong as it should be. The same rule applies to teams in the company, make sure everyone is on the same page because if one person is not delivering a good customer experience, then it can give the impression that the whole team or company is the same.

The long-term impact of excellent customer service

Providing excellent customer service is a gradual process. Think of a time when you received such good customer service that you wanted to tell everyone you came across how fantastic your experience was. This is what you want your customers to experience. It’s free marketing for your business; you will retain existing customers and gain new ones. 

In the workplace, once everyone is trained and you see the customer-based rewards coming in, you will then experience the business-based rewards. These include less stress and more productivity, more organisation, and more communication between departments along with an efficient and effective service throughout.

Once you get your ideal standard set, don’t let it slip: keep training and keep checking in with your employees to ensure you're delivering a high standard of service to your customers.