You started a company. You built a product. You shipped it to customers. Now the fun really begins! You’ll need to deal with complaints. Shipping issues. Lost messages. And maybe a bug or two. So, this next suggestion might seem like just another hassle for your small business, but: If you put customers first in everything you do, you’ll see that complaints are just another chance to wow them.
Here are six things we’ve learned at Desk.com that you can do to rally your business around your customers so you can turn every interaction into an opportunity.
1. Wow and celebrate your customers.
To build strong relationships with customers you need to impress them at every step with fast, empathetic service and quick case resolution -- even for the most complicated issues. There are dozens of ways to show extra support. If your customers are consumers, send them an email on their birthday. Celebrate milestones for your business customers (like successful VC fundraising) with a custom cake and handwritten notes. Provide extra visibility by giving away their products at tradeshows or as employee gifts.
Also: Mentor customers who need help in any business area, whether that be marketing, sales, event management or anything else. Don’t justbe in the business of selling your products. Be in the business of helping customers succeed.
2. Practice total company support.
To build a customer-centric company, have everyone in your company interact with customers on a regular basis. Start by training every employee at your small business to participate in customer service. Ideally, everyone from the CEO to the receptionist should be able to pitch in and help with customer support during busy times.
Customer service training should also be part of your onboarding process and an ongoing part of every job. (Which makes sense: After all, customer service is the best way to learn about your customers and products.) Even if learning about customer service isn’t currently part of your onboarding process, it’s not too late. Order some pizzas on a Friday afternoon and get everyone trained so they can jump in to help customers at a moment’s notice.
3. Give everyone 360-degree customer views.
Today’s customers expect everyone in your company to know who they are, what they’ve ordered and whether they’ve had problems in the past. Not to mention what they said on Twitter last week.
When you connect all of your support channels and the apps you use to run your business, everyone can be “in the know” about customers. Support agents can see order histories, open opportunities and even shipping status. Sales reps know when a customer needs help. Today’s cloud-computing solutions make it easy to integrate systems and share information, so everyone can be more productive and do a better job of building relationships.
4. Use technology to be more personal.
Many people worry that as technology becomes more sophisticated, the personalized touch will go by the wayside. Not true! If you use a customer-support solution that captures interactions from every channel in one place, you’ll know your customers wherever you meet them. And, if you get a solution that lets you automate repetitive tasks, you can free your agents to craft personalized messages that build loyalty and reinforce your brand.
Encourage agents to sign their own names, to put a “face” on the communication. In today’s business, a personal touch is not just for top customers, it’s for everyone.
5. Capture feedback and act on it.
Many startups spend a lot of time and money building products that customers ultimately don’t want. Remember Pepsi A.M.? Heinz E-Z Squirt purple ketchup? Customer service feedback can help you avoid costly mistakes. Unlike product management or marketing teams -- which talk to customers only from time to time -- your agents talk to real customers every single day. They can tell you how customers are interacting with your product and if they’re having problems.
These insights should drive your important product decisions. And, if you track your support cases carefully, you can see what modifications and features customers would like to see in your product or what their biggest pain points are.
6. Make support part of your experience.
Start simply by creating a support center that reflects your personality and brand. You can make it even easier for customers when you make it possible for them to stay within your product when they need help. Add support-center links to relevant pages on your site. Or add a way for customers to log tickets within your product experience.
Companies like Amazon are even adding “SOS buttons” to their products. So, do something similar: If there’s some way that you can see when customers are having trouble, reach out before they even have a chance to pick up the phone.
Ready to put customer service at the center of everything you do? Start now and start turning every support interaction into an opportunity for customer happiness.
This post was originally published on Entrepreneur.