Make customer service a top priority

In today’s competitive environment — with rising inflation and labor and supply shortages — as a small business owner, what keeps you awake at night? Without a doubt, these are concerns. However, the critical question that every small business owner must answer has little to do with operating practices and everything to do with “Why do customers choose my business over other competitors?” If you can’t answer that question with 99% accuracy, staying awake at night is a good thing.

Traditional answers might include being competitive on price or having a large assortment of products. These might be true to a degree, although I categorize these as “symptoms” and not root causes.

When a customer enters your business, you have 30 seconds to make an impression. What will that impression convey to the customer? Customers have numerous choices and they choose your business. The question is, why? Answer that question and all other questions fall in line.

In the words of Maya Angelou, a poet and civil rights activist, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Truer words could not be spoken when it comes to treating customers.

Some of the customers that come to your business are loyal customers, some are disappointed in other businesses and are shopping around, and some are coming to your business on the recommendation of friends.

When they enter your business, does anyone know that they have entered your business?
Every Bath & Body Works store (all 1,800 at the time) spoke the same target statement
(changed weekly) to every customer – nothing was left to chance. Does your business have a target statement? Do you welcome your customers when they enter your store and thank them when they are leaving?

According to Kissmetrics, a web analytics tool, 71% of consumers left businesses due to poor customer service. Here are five things businesses can do to keep focus on the customer and keep them coming back:

  1. Build a relationship with your customers
  2. Pay attention and respond to social media comments
  3. Train your staff on customer interactions
  4. Be sensitive to customer complaints and solve the problem
  5. Understand customer expectations and focus on keeping your loyal customers

No matter your business category, every business must be profitable to remain in business. Yes, cost of goods sold and profit margin matter. Profitability is the result of all business actions. Make customer service and retention your top priority.