Customer Service Guide for Small Business

What Good Customer Service Is and How to Provide It All the Time

Image (c) Dave McLeod / Susan Ward

Good customer service can be the difference between being able to compete and survive and failing for small businesses. So I'm continually amazed at how many small business owners take a "wing and a prayer" approach to good customer service in their business; they hire what they think are good people and just assume that they'll do the right things – often without even bothering to do any customer service training.

This guide is designed to take a more systematic approach. The articles here will teach you what good customer service is and give you tools to assess and improve customer service in your small business.

Customer Service Basics

  • Customer Service Basics: How to Help a Customer
    On the other hand, a customer seeking help is the most common customer service interaction. Here’s how to get this interaction right. (You might want to use this article to educate your staff and evaluate their customer service performance.)
  • 8 Rules for Good Customer Service
    Following these eight simple rules will ensure that your business becomes known for its good customer service and allow you to reap the benefits that good customer service provides.

Good Customer Service Tips

    • 10 Customer Service Tips
      The big money isn't as much in winning customers as in keeping customers - and the key to keeping customers is the level of customer service you provide. Liz Tahir presents ten tips that will keep them coming back.
    • How to Provide Customer Service That Outshines Your Competitors
      Good customer service will keep your customers coming back. But there's a step beyond that, the kind of customer service that gives you the edge over your competitors and brings in new customers. Here's how you can implement that kind of customer service.
      • Customer Service Tips From Two Top Retailers
        Small businesses can learn a lot about good customer service from bigger businesses. Find out what lessons you can apply to your own business from the success of Sleep Country Canada and Sears.
      • Phone Answering Tips to Win Business
        The telephone is the first point of contact with customers for many businesses. But if you don't answer the phone the right way, you'll lose business instead of gaining it. Here are "winning ways" to answer the phone.

      Dealing With Customer Complaints and Returns

        • Tips for Handling Store Returns
          To make the store return a positive customer experience, you need to be sure both your return policy and your return process match your customer service goals. These tips for handling store returns will ensure you're providing customer service rather than disservice.
        • Your Client is Livid! 5 Lessons on Client Management
          Have you ever run into problems that resulted in a tense relationship between you and a client?  Marshall Zierkel  explains how to smooth things over, minimizing conflict as it arises and adding value in your clients’ eyes.

        Gathering Feedback About Your Customer Service

        • Put Some Extra Eyes on Your Customer Service
          To find out if your business is providing the good customer service you want it to provide, you need to get some outside views. Here are some tips for finding out what your customers and/or clients think of their interactions with your front-line people.
          • Customer Service Survey
            This short questionnaire is designed to provide insight into the transaction between your business's staff and your customers. It's a general customer service survey that you can use to get feedback about face-to-face interactions.

          How to Improve Customer Service

          • Customer Service Makeover
            This makeover focuses on making sure that your small business provides the kind of customer service that builds customer loyalty, gives positive word-of-mouth advertising, and increases sales – in short, the good, better or even superior customer service that consumers want.