Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs: The 80-20 Advantage

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In entrepreneurship, a basic rule to keep in mind is that 80% of your business should come from 20% of your customers. Keep this 20% happy, and you will never run out of business!! Here are some Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs, to ensure that customers form a long-term relationship with your organization.

  • Be available.
    There's nothing better than the good old-fashioned personal touch! Answer your phone within 3 rings, give your name, and be present to the caller. Avoid sounding rushed or too busy. Every customer wants to feel special. Never keep a customer on hold for more than 30 seconds. If you are going to need to leave them on hold for more than that amount of time, offer to call them back.

  • Reframe and show understanding.
    Acknowledge the customer’s issue by relaying it back to them, to make sure you understand what they’re asking. It validates the customer and ensures that you understand the issue. Phrases like "Let me see if I fully understand your requirements", followed by a clear summary, will do much to make your customers feel comfortable.

  • Under promise and over deliver.
    Never promise more than you can deliver. It’s always better to exceed customer expectations than to disappoint them. Respond to messages promptly, remembering that any response is better than a long delay. Above all, communicate constantly - never leave a customer wondering what's happening. Keep your customers apprised of a situation.

  • Solutions aren’t always necessary.
    Don’t offer advice unless you’re asked for it. Often, customers just want to talk, and don’t want your solution.

  • What’s the next action?
    Before ending a call or a meeting, make sure that both, you and the customer, have a mutual understanding of what has/will be done to resolve the issue.

  • Give them alternate channels.
    Follow up with a phone call after communicating with a customer through e-mail, or vice versa.

  • Ask permission.
    Don’t automatically call your customer by their first name - ask how they prefer to be addressed while you assist them. Don’t make a personal comment within a business conversation, and never divulge your customer's identity to others without taking permission. Show respect and caution, and always ask permission.

  • Give business to others.
    Occasionally, what we have to offer is simply not what a customer is looking for. In these instances, it pays to be knowledgeable, and to refer customers to others companies. Referrals do pay in the long run.

  • Follow-up and feedback.
    Service doesn't stop when the sale is concluded. Follow-up with customers, to ensure that their needs have been met, ask for feedback on the key areas of your business dealings, and show your sincerity by making changes whenever relevant. Ask your customers every single time, if there is anything you can do better or different, to make them happier the next time.

  • Say thank you.
    Say it out loud to your staff and to your customers. Never conclude a sale without a thank you.
Competition is increasing in practically every domain today. And you must have something special to offer to your customers, to keep them loyal to you and your products/services. That “something special” is “exceptionally good customer service”, which would not only lead to repeat business, but will also fetch you more referral business from the recommendations of your satisfied customers.

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