Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, providing almost half of all jobs in the US. Almost 20 percent of American workers are employed on businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Yet, over one-third of all new small businesses close within the first two years and over 50 percent exit the market before their five-year anniversary. Small businesses are critical to the economic strength of the country, but many small businesses struggle to keep up with their big-box and online competitors.
Small businesses can’t always offer lower prices, longer hours or more convenient delivery options, so they must stand out on customer service. In an increasingly impersonal and anonymous market, small businesses need to provide customer service that make their patrons feel special and valued. Customer service doesn’t have to be expensive, though. These five easy customer services show-stoppers will keep your customers coming back again and again.
The first critical customer service piece of the puzzle is completely free but is unfortunately often overlooked. Every visitor to your business is a potential customer and must be greeted with your full attention. Position your desk, counter or lobby area in a highly visible location in your business and greet every person that comes through the front door. There is not a single piece of paperwork or line in a spreadsheet that is more important that your potential customer. And absolutely no social media platform or television show is more valuable to your business than a new customer.
Train all your employees to greet every person that walks through the door, ask if he or she needs any assistance, and be available for questions or comments. Customers want to feel important, and nothing says “you matter to my business” more than receiving the full attention of an employee. Big-box stores rarely provide this level of personal interaction and online stores are devoid of personal customer service. This small, free act of greeting every customer will prove to be a showstopper for your business’s success.
The next customer service shop-stopper will also make a customer feel valuable and welcome: Keep the public restroom clean. Big-box stores are notorious for dirty bathrooms littered with paper towels and other garbage. Small business owners should be able to keep up with bathroom cleanliness and maintenance. Sweep the floor every day and clean the sinks and toilets twice a week at a minimum.
Don’t buy the cheapest toilet paper and paper towels. Cheap products will make customers feel like the whole business is cheap. Spending a few extra dollars on quality products will make customers feel like they are important. And never use your public restroom as spillover storage. Don’t make customers feel like they are using the storage room when they visit the restroom.
Show customers their value by keeping a clean store. For just the cost of a broom, mop and duster, you can tell your patrons that they matter to you. No one wants to walk through leaves and debris to get to a front door. Dusty shelves and dirty floors do not inspire confidence in the success and sustainability of any business! Train staff to sweep every day before opening and dust at least twice a week. Blow leaves from sidewalks and entry ways, pick up trash in the parking lot and empty garbage cans inside every day. A clean business is a welcoming business and can be critical for a small business trying to compete with big-box and online stores.
No one likes to shop or eat in silence. A quiet store can be uncomfortable or awkward, especially in a small space. If you have a computer and an internet subscription, you can stream music for free through Pandora or another service. If you have a larger store or restaurant, place Bluetooth speakers around the business to set a welcoming and friendly environment.
Lastly, you can help your business stand out with easy holiday and seasonal decorations. Outdoor lights, brightly colored potted plants and flowers and holiday wreaths will create an inviting façade for your business. Seasonal and holiday decorations don’t have to cost a lot; shop local thrift stores for great deals on décor and artwork to help your business create a show-stopping environment.
Small businesses can compete in this big-box and online economy, but it takes effort to stand out. Creating a welcoming environment and providing excellent customer service will help your business rise above your more impersonal competitors. These five easy steps will make your business a showstopper in your industry!
If you have any questions, our team would be more than happy to help. Call us today at (484) 893-4055.