Low-Cost Ways to Improve Customer Service
Q: What is one low-cost way to improve customer service in your business?
The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization composed of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
A: Get Rid of Your FAQ
If you feel you need an FAQ section for your site, what you really have is a usability problem. Take each frequently asked question, and then pinpoint when and where in the user experience of your website you could have proactively answered that question. If you improve your user experience that way, it's very likely that these "frequently asked questions" will no longer be frequent.
Alexander Torrenegra, VoiceBunny
A: Try Zendesk Starter
It's actually free with a $20 donation, but gets you started with Zendesk's amazing suite of customer service options. It's great for a smaller company because it links ALL channels (email, Twitter, Facebook, chat, etc.) into one easy ticketing system. The starter package includes up to three users.
Jessica Brondo, The Edge in College Prep
A: Ask for Feedback (and Listen to It!)
Welcome feedback from your customers by asking them to email you with concerns, questions or suggestions. Then actually spend the time to answer them whether or not the company can implement all ideas right away. Technology is great for organizing this type of communication, but it's the commitment to listening that will make the biggest impact to the customer.
Kelly Azevedo, She's Got Systems
A: Install Olark
Give customers the easiest path to fix the problems they're having with your product. Olark has been a really cool way incorporate instant messaging-style communications into your customer service process.
Neil Thanedar, LabDoor
A: Get to Know Them ─ Personally
As you get to know customers, pick up small cues about who they are and what's important to them. Recognize birthdays, promotions, or send "just because" gifts or notes. Learn their favorite music, books and coffee brands. By surprising and delighting your customers, you'll stand out in a way no one else can. A deeper relationship and a better business will follow.
Susan Strayer LaMotte, exaqueo
A: Help Scout's a Breeze
Help Scout is a simple help desk tool that acts as a shared inbox. Before we implemented it, our support conversations were happening all over the place. With Help Scout it's all organized in one inbox. And it operates just like email, so there isn't a learning curve at all.
Wade Foster, Zapier
A: Just Pick Up the Phone
The best and cheapest way to improve service in your business is to call your customers. Just give them a call and say hello and ask them how things are going. Let them know that you want to improve their experience with your company and allow them to tell you how. They are going to be your best resource in teaching you how to improve, so pick up the phone and let them talk.
Louis Lautman, Supreme Outsourcing
A: Interact With Intercom
Intercom.io is a combination marketing platform and customer service command center. They call it a CRM for apps, and it's pretty fantastic. They're still in beta, but we've been able to interact with our customers in a completely different way using it, and it's only $50 a month. For us it's a no-brainer.
Liam Martin, Staff.com
A: Address People By Name
I used to be a customer service auditor, and one of the things that made a huge difference when it came to customer experience was addressing people by their first name. For example, if a hotel said, "Hello, Natalie, how are you?" it made them score extremely high for likability and overall experience among customers. You can apply this to just about every business.
Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
A: Survey Your Customers
One thing that we have done for years is to send all of our customers a Wufoo survey form at different points of the sales process. This way, they can answer short questions about the company and feedback can be sent back to the customer service representative immediately through Wufoo's notification flexibility.
Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers
A: Reach Out on Social Media
Caring costs nothing, and you can show you care on social media. Take a few minutes each day to thank customers on Twitter or Facebook. Do something nice; they’ll be happy you did. Going the extra mile is low cost, and extremely rewarding.
Matt Wilson, Under30Media
A: Thank Them, Personally
Send handwritten thank-you notes to your clients. Handwritten messages will show that you aren’t just a company; you’re a person. Customer service isn’t “B2C” or “B2B,” it’s “P2P” ─ as in person to person. Postcards are inexpensive, and it takes just a minute to write a personal thank you, but the relationship-building you’ll achieve is invaluable.
Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk