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How to Build an Outstanding Small Business Customer Support Plan

Customer support is vital for any small business to create and maintain strong relationships with its customers. Strong customer relationships allow you to build trust that can lead to more referrals and greater customer loyalty. Over time, it will result in the overall improvement of your company's revenue and growth.

How to build a customer support plan for small business
New Age Cubicle | Small Business Customer Support

Index

  1. Determine Your Support System

  2. Respond Promptly to Inquiries

  3. Create a List of frequently asked Questions and Answers

  4. Display Empathy

  5. Know your Product/Service

  6. Train your Staff

  7. Reward Customer Loyalty

  8. Provide Follow-Ups


However, customer support is more than just providing answers. It's about understanding the customer's needs, asking the right questions, and being available to help. Since most small businesses do not have dedicated customer support staff, you must have a detailed plan ready. A customer support plan can help you identify your customers' needs and expectations, keep track of customer feedback and provide high-quality service that leaves a lasting impression on your customers.


In this article, we have put together a list of actions that you can take to build a successful customer support plan for your small business.


Determine Your Support System


The key to establishing a successful support plan is understanding that your business might need different types of customer support. Depending on your business model, you will need to tailor your strategy accordingly.


For example, if you are a retailer with physical stores, you might want to focus more on the phone and in-person support. On the other hand, if you are running an eCommerce store, chances are your customers might prefer email or chat interactions more.


Small businesses need to know what type of customer support works best for their particular business and industry, then plan to put in the necessary time and effort to do that well. Companies usually provide customer support through email, phone, social media, and online chat tools.


  • Phone Support. Phone calls allow customers to have real-time conversations with you and receive immediate clarifications on the spot. They do not need to wait hours for responses that may never come. However, the downside of the phone support system is the lack of scalability and potential holding time.


  • Email Support. One of the most used channels is email. Emails allow your customers to describe the issues in greater detail. Customers who are introverts may find email support less intimidating than phone calls. A notable disadvantage of email support is the response time and clarity of solutions, especially for more complex issues.


  • Chat Support. Similar to email support, chat support provides a convenient way for customers to reach out for help. It's less intimidating while still providing real-time solutions like the phone support option. Due to confidentiality issues, avoid using channels like WhatsApp or Telegram. In this case, SMS is better.


  • Social Media Support. Another frequent channel is Social Media. Through its various platforms customers will be able to contact your company effortlessly. Plus, it can also help you determine your target audience through the vast tools Social Media platforms offer.


Respond Promptly to Inquiries


Quick response is another factor that can contribute to delivering good customer support. Customers appreciate a speedy response to their inquiries, especially when they have a time-sensitive request. To provide good customer support, we encourage you to respond to emails and social media inbox within 24 hours, phone calls, and chat as soon as possible but no more than 5 minutes. Inform your customers about how long it will take you to assist them.


Create a List of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


There might be instances where you cannot get to your customers for an extended amount of time. Whether feedback from a particular product/service or a dreaded complaint, you might want to resolve it before the issues escalate.


The critical aspect here is to create a self-service option that allows customers to quickly navigate the answers to questions that may come up in your product or service. Providing customers a list of frequently asked questions and answers is one of the most popular, affordable, and effective ways to approach this issue.


So, what should you consider when creating FAQs? Well-crafted FAQs should be easy-to-find, easy-to-read, and comprehensive enough to answer customer questions quickly.

Some of the sample FAQs include:


  • When will my product arrive?

  • What are the types of payment you accept?

  • Where is your store located?

  • Can you provide me with some general information about the product/service?

  • When can I expect my refund?


Also, make sure your FAQs are as detailed and accurate as possible.


And what about complaints?

Occasionally, you may receive some complaints about your products or services. Do not worry; it happens to all businesses at some point, big or small. By not taking these lightly and always viewing them as constructive criticism, you can use complaints productively to serve your customers better. Listen to what they say and consider it for future improvements.


Display Empathy


No company is without problems, and you have probably experienced this first-hand. Remember the first thing all the customer support reps said when they heard your situation? Most likely, it's something along the lines of "I'm sorry about the inconvenience. We are working our best to try to find a solution to your problem." This type of message shows empathy. Understanding the concerns of a customer is key to customer loyalty.

Put yourself in your customers' shoes and treat them how you want to be treated. A popular call center tip is to smile whenever you speak on the phone. Even though the other person cannot see you, your tone will improve when you smile.


  • Remain polite. Please and thank you go a long way in any conversation. Why would a support call be any different? There will be times where you have an angry customer who leaves you feeling ignored and frustrated. But it does not have to be this way! With a bit of patience and understanding, you can find a resolution that benefits both parties.


  • Match your customer's tone. When writing or speaking to your customers, it's important to pay attention to their preferences when addressing them. Some like to be called by their surname, while others prefer being called by their first name. Also, avoid using too much technical jargon in customer communications as some people will not understand the terminology. They would prefer it if you could explain their problem concisely and in layman's terms, without skipping too much detail.


  • Active Listening. Multi-tasking might seem like a necessity for small business owners. But with so many different responsibilities, there will be times where you need to put a client on hold or mute the call. It's not the time to let your attention drift. A call from a client can be crucial, so you want to give it 100% of your attention.


How to Build an Outstanding Small Business Customer Support Plan


Know your Product/Service.


As a business owner, you understand your product better than anyone else. You did the market research necessary for the services you offered and studied competitors long before cutting the ribbon. People care about the knowledge you provide them with, so use this to your advantage. Customers are more likely to stay loyal if they feel that you are knowledgeable in your field. Keep providing the same quality of information each time they communicate with you, and they will be more eager to continue engaging with the company.


You and all team members are required to know everything about the product or service you are selling. It's essential to be knowledgeable enough to explain the features, unique benefits, and how it solves problems related to your product or service. And remember to speak to your customers, not speaking at them.


Train your Staff


Most small businesses start with a small team that does everything themselves, but eventually, their might grow to a size where it makes sense to take on different tasks that are time-consuming. Hiring employees can be a great way to solve this problem.


While good to have, your staff do not need any specific qualifications to provide customer service. It's a good idea to give them some training on what the company offers. The training can teach your customer service reps how to handle specific customer queries and problems and provide guidelines for each one.


The cost of customer support is often overlooked in the early stages of a product launch, but it can quickly become expensive if not adequately planned for. A few options to consider when scaling your company:


  • Hire customer representatives. You can hire additional people to help out, or you can get more employees on your team. You will have to be just as attentive to your employees as you are with your customers. Your customer support reps will be the face of your company. Make sure to continue training them and check in on their progress periodically to ensure success.