Customers are the life-blood of businesses. And given today's darkening economic picture, customer service is one area experts say small businesses should excel in since loyal clients can mean the difference between remaining your own boss and closing up shop. Here are five steps you can take that won't leave you in the red:
Hire People PeopleSounds easy enough: Staff your front line with employees who are personable and like dealing with customers. Sure, you can train them on company customer procedures, but if that employee can't or won't relate to a client's plight, you may have a relations problem. So during the interviewing process, be sure to throw in some nasty scenarios to see how a potential employee would deal with a complaint, says Jerry Acuff, author of The Relationship Edge (Wiley).
"We are not disciplined to get great people," says Acuff, who is also CEO of
If you must outsource your customer service, institute good quality control. That way, says Acuff, "there are no language or cultural barriers that will prevent customers from receiving the service they deserve."