Maintain your work-life balance while keeping customers happy
Image: Virginia Martin, founder of Búl
If you run a small business, you know that customers make enquiries around the clock, but you don’t need to trade your downtime to remain helpful and responsive.
Virginia Martin, founder of fashion label Búl, relies on the following digital tools and techniques to maintain her work-life balance:
- Self-service online tools
- Automated technology
- Sharing the load with her team
Better yet, she does it all without compromising on the quality of customer service her Melbourne-based brand delivers.
Why should you include a customer communication strategy in your business plan?
Consumers’ expectations around communication with businesses are shaped by how they interact with larger companies. In fact, 61% of consumers surveyed for the Business Intelligence report on Customer Experience say they expect small businesses to respond to their queries as quickly as large businesses.
With fewer resources, it’s often unrealistic for small businesses to match the capabilities of large corporations, but some clever strategies can help you remain competitive. Here, Virginia Martin shares how her business does it.
Encourage customers to self-serve
When a customer lands on Búl’s website, a series of prompts appear to predict the most common queries – and to provide answers. You could liken it to an in-store experience, where customers are greeted by an employee who succinctly explains what they can expect to find in the shop.
On site, clothing product pages are detailed with item descriptions including information about fit and materials. Búl’s business website also publishes:
- Sizing guides for Búl garments
- Terms and conditions for delivery and returns
- A helpful FAQ section listing the answers to common enquiries.
“This allows our customers to access information quickly to help with purchase decisions and not have to contact us via another channel,” Virginia says. “This [also] helps keep our team free to manage other duties and it’s much quicker for the customer.”
Consider the benefits of automated technology
Automated technology and digital tools, like predictive live chat, are designed to send automatic responses to your customers. These tools help staff members who’d otherwise spend time responding to queries manually.
Virginia says that Búl maintains its high level of service by working with tech tools such as these whenever possible.
“The more that can be automated or easily managed through technology, the better,” she says. “It also allows for greater reporting on customer experience and insights that can help support business decisions.”
It’s these insights – which would have otherwise been lost in a phone call or email trail – that have allowed Búl to develop its comprehensive and efficient set of self-service tools.
Share the customer service role
Before the reality of lockdowns hit the Australian retail landscape, Virginia found that many customers favoured in-person encounters when making an enquiry.
“Some preferred the ease of being able to drop into store, as generally the nature of an in-store enquiry – such as an exchange or a product enquiry – could be handled immediately,” says Virginia.
As the retail and eCommerce landscape continues to change, the Búl team has had to adapt to deliver the same quality of service through digital channels. Outside business hours, any enquiries received are promptly answered the following morning; a task shared by the team.
Having an after-hours boundary in place helps to make sure no one is working around the clock. And, reassuringly, the Business Intelligence report on Customer Experience found that only two in five consumers expect a small business to be available to respond to them 24/7.
Tips to help your business plan a strong customer service strategy
This checklist can help you find opportunities to improve how you respond to customers. Each tip may also help save you time in the day-to-day running of your business.
- Create an FAQ page on your website.
- Make sure product pages include relevant information such as descriptions, specifications, materials, and any other details that may help inform an online shopper’s decision.
- Include details about delivery and your returns policy on your website.
- Install automated tools like live chat on your website or social media channels and use them to provide instant responses to customers – even if it’s just letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you.
- Manage and review enquiries through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and use this information to inform your future business decisions.
- Train your team to manage customer enquiries and make it clear who is responsible for customer interactions, on-premises and online.
- Make responding to customer enquiries part of your daily routine, not an afterthought.
Using these simple strategies can help you deliver responsive, quality customer service, without compromising your much-needed downtime.
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