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The customer is always right, right? It’s a great catchphrase but is pretty hard to live by in a small business if you want to protect your reputation.

While it seems only natural to bow down to your customers, you also need to stand by your business’ principals.

However, it is possible (and necessary) to find the perfect balance between the two.

Exceptional customer service is often the difference between you and your competitors and between success and failure.

1. Flexibility is paramount to customer service

The customer, today, is an individual. They expect a personalised service and the businesses that thrive are the ones who can accommodate this need. It’s no longer possible – or good for brand reputation – to take a one size fits all approach.

Instead, you need to be flexible. This demonstrates to the customer that you are willing to go that extra mile and value their business.

Small businesses have a distinct advantage here: it’s easier to be flexible. You’re not a mono-beast stuck with procedures and protocols that tie you up in knots. Instead, each and every customer matters, so you can treat them as such by acknowledging their individuality.

2. Deescalate and use conflict to your advantage

Think you’ll never have a conflict with a customer, ever? Think again. Believing this only sets you up for a hard fall – with the added likelihood of escalating a conflict if you take things personally. The customer isn’t always right, but pointing this out will only inflame things.

It’s essential that you are akin to a UN peace negotiator when handling conflict, nipping it in the bud before it gets out of control. Therefore, you need to prioritise communication and integrity. Listen to your customers and hear the rumbles of discontent before those mole hills become mountains.

If you can solve a problem quickly you’ll gain respect and loyalty. People understand that mistakes can be made, but they don’t understand the need for denial and defensiveness. Rather than raising your hackles, see these as opportunities to boost your relationship with customers.

3. Connect with your customer when and where you can

Let’s head back to that concept of personalisation. An easy way to personalise to your customers is by making yourself accessible where your customer is.

A social media presence is a remarkably simple and straight-forward way of approaching this, as long as you maintain and manage it correctly (and appropriately).

When interacting on social it’s worth keeping these rules in mind; always reply to a customer, even if all they need is acknowledgement, be calm, respectful and seek to help and be interesting and engaging. Stick to these rules and you’ll successfully reflect your business’ brand.

4. Appreciate loyalty and let your customer know it

Small businesses grow through loyalty and recommendation. The takeaway here is that you should incentivise and entice customers to return remain loyal to your brand.

Presenting regular offers through email newsletters or on social media platforms is a simple and effective way to do this – it needn’t be complicated.

Remember, it’s a good deal easier to nurture an existing customer relationship than it is to win a new one, so value your relationships through the methods above and stand out from your competitors.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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