A quality product or service is only half the equation of encouraging customers to complete a transaction with your business. How can you ensure that they will choose to purchase your product over the hundreds of others offered to them for equitable or lesser prices?
The answer is simple: customer service. You can add value to your product or services simply by making yourself available to your customer base, a task easier said than done for time-constrained small business owners. With a plan, however, you can save some time and get the right processes set up for optimum customer service.
Customers generally have two options for customer support – the phone and your website. This article will focus on the website side of customer support, since many firms are opting to keep all service online anyway, but keep in mind that you will also want to include a phone number on your website. Your website can be a huge part of adding value to your products and services, from FAQs to How-to guides, and so much more.
One of the most wonderful parts of customer service through the Internet is that, if done well, you can get your customers to help each other out. This frees you up from having to manage all of the customer service and allows customers to interact with each other, building a community around your products and services. So here are a few ways to add that extra value that can separate you from the competition.
The FAQ section is, essentially, a proactive way to offer customer service. Here, you have frequently asked questions from customers and your thorough response to them. By adding this feature, customers will be able to figure out answers to their questions without any additional help from you personally.
This is a must-have for every company and especially small business owners without much time. If you’re just getting started, think through the customer experience and try to anticipate their needs. This is the table of contents for help. Customers almost always start here if they haven’t used Google already. And where do you think Google is going to direct them? 9 times out of 10 they’ll end up on your FAQ page.
Contact information such as a hotline number is extraordinarily helpful to customers. They can use this line if they encounter any difficulties with your product or have any questions on how to figure out how to use a particular feature of your product. Another way to have contact information is through a live chat option. Customers who are wary or uncomfortable of phone conversations can use the live chat option to work through their difficulties with your product. This also allows for the live chat employee to converse with several customers simultaneously.
Make it easy for customers to get in touch. Whether that’s through an email address, a phone number, or office hours for them to drop by, the key is accessibility. Ever ordered something off of eBay from Hong Kong? Good luck trying to reach customer service. Most people who try that once quickly realize it’s worth buying from a firm who they can contact if they have problems.
The nature of some businesses lends itself to lots of questions. So, dedicating an entire section of your website to How To pages may be a viable option. For instance, Apple has various trouble shooting pages for all of their iProducts in order to avoid as many angry customer calls as possible. This also empowers customers to figure out how to use their product on their own.
How To guides can double as your product manual, but gives you the flexibility to update as you learn. When you find that your customers are regularly running into a problem, add a how to guide and put a link to it in your FAQ section. Before long, customers will be working through the issues on their own.
Build a Community
Using social media is another way to add value to your product. One of the most effective ways is through the use of Twitter. Twitter users can actually tweet with your business directly with questions or concerns about your product or services.
Because Twitter is accessible both through mobile phones and through desktop computers, it is accessible to almost the entirety of your customer base. This also makes it easy for you to respond quickly. Tweeting answers directly back to the person who sent the tweet can greatly increase the value of both your business and your product. In addition, there is an option to quote a tweet. In this way, you could quote the tweeted question and answer it on your own Twitter account. This is like a continuous Twitter FAQ.
Another option is to create forums where customers can post questions and allow your staff or other customers to add their solutions. After awhile, you’ll have a solid knowledge-base built by your customers for other customers. These communities on social media sites and on forums can mean all the difference between you and a lower-priced competitor.
Adding value to your products and services through customer support is a powerful way to separate your company from the rest of the pack. Business students know that customer service, at its core, extends the customer’s experience with your brand well before and far after the sale. So start building out your website to provide as much pre and post-sale support as possible and you will begin building a solid foundation of loyal customers.
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