Handling Customer Care As A Bootstrapped Small Business Owner

Frank Gothmann
Independent Consultant
Independent Consultant
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There are a number of large corporate houses that are notorious for bad customer service. But they continue to rake in profits thanks to the near monopoly they enjoy in their respective businesses. But as a small business operator, every small gesture counts, and one bad customer experience can truly derail the months of brand building efforts your company has been working on.

One area of customer service management that can easily go wrong is with respect to actually taking their service requests. This is all the more likely when you are bootstrapped and cannot afford to hire full-time execs. Just think about it – what was the last bad customer service experience you faced? Did this include long hold times or a seemingly lazy service rep who wouldn't be bothered by your issues? Chances are pretty high that you faced at least one of these two experiences. How does a small business owner handle this challenge?

To begin with, customer service in a small business ought to be much more core to everyday operations compared to how they are in large businesses. Wherever possible, the business owners and department heads should take service calls themselves instead of it being handled by a separate team. However, if you spend the day meeting clients and coordinating with suppliers, chances are you may not always be in a position to take calls. Here are some tips to tackle these critical problems in customer service.

Set up Call Forwarding : If you are on the move for most part of the day and your business is still bootstrapped to afford a full-time service executive, then the cheapest alternative is to set-up a call forwarding feature. A lot of business phone services today provide seamless call forwarding and voicemail-to-email forwarding feature to their clients. This way, you can take calls made to your toll-free number even when you are traveling and meeting clients.

Hire A VA : If you do not have phone support and mostly deal with customer complaints over email, then a VA is a better bet to hiring a full-time customer service executive. This is because professional service representatives may cost higher and may need a lot more training. If you are still at a stage when hiring an experienced customer support manager is not affordable, you can choose to go with a VA instead. These virtual assistants are often available at less than $5 an hour and can be trained to respond with templated messages depending on the kind of complaint the user faces. This way, only those complaints that a VA cannot deal with get forwarded to you and will need your time in being taken care of.

Callback With Service Guarantee : Remember how Dominos became a household name after their 30 minute delivery guarantee? While this policy no longer exists, at least in the United States, the service guarantee assured customers while incentivized the pizza chain to provide timely service. If you cannot afford to have an operator manning the phone at all times, provide a callback feature and offer to call customers back within a stipulated duration like 30 minutes or 1 hour. What more, you may also promise freebies or coupons for times when you miss the mark. Call back features provide the business owner with sufficient breathing time to reach out to the customer to attend to their problems even when they are stuck with other assignments. Also, a service guarantee ensures any lapses are minimal and are not a routine feature.

As a bootstrapped business owner, every customer counts. By deploying the above strategies, you can provide top-notch customer service even when you cannot afford to hire full-time executives to handle this aspect of business.

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