In today’s ever-evolving world, crises have almost become commonplace. A crisis tests the foundation and the capability of a business. The saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, actually begins to make sense. It is only during a crisis that your plan Bs, Cs and more come to save you. You need to protect your most treasured stakeholders while navigating through a tight corner – your customers/ clients. In order to retain your customers, you need a strong customer service team and plan in place.
How this team responds during a crisis plays a pivotal role in protecting your reputation and goodwill. Customer service, especially for small businesses is vital as even the smallest mistake can prove quite expensive for a small business to fix. Poor customer service can result in extreme and negative responses from disgruntled customers, who may walk away from your business. During a crisis, customer services should:
• be fully aware of the nature of the crisis.
• be able to respond to the crisis.
• be detail-oriented.
• quickly deliver relevant information to all stakeholders.
• be able to check up on how people are reacting to information that is being given
• ensure follow-ups. When it comes to your customer service strategy, remember the following factors:
• Be proactive: Don’t be reactive and wait for the customer to reach out to you first. Proactively get in touch with your clients or customers. During tough situations, it is always better a customer hears any negative news directly from you, rather than through other sources. This way you can also be sure that accurate information is passed on. Always acknowledge any mistakes on your end first.
• Listen carefully: Listen carefully, understand the exact concerns that are being put forth and respond accordingly.
• Keep promises you make: Reliability is one of the main aspects of customer service. Crises test assurances and promises made.
• Help without expectations: When a customer has been well serviced, he will notice that the one who has serviced him might not have much to gain from it. Customers tend to remember such incidents, which will prove beneficial for your small business in the long run.
• Practice your Ps and Qs: Times of crisis, brings out different sides to people’s personalities. No matter how irate a customer gets, make sure you keep your cool and are courteous at all times. Being kind and well-mannered not only helps get through the crisis faster but brings in accolades.
• Use social media sites: Today more or less everyone is easily accessible on social media. Leverage sites like Facebook and Twitter to help in reaching out to a large audience immediately. Posting information during the crisis and replying to customer queries online is a fast and effective customer service approach. • Empathise: It is in the times of crisis when a customer would need reassurance and comfort, but make sure you do not come across as sympathetic, as it may offend the customer. Be professional and empathize instead. A customer would well remember and appreciate if at a weak moment he is serviced with reassurance and genuine concern.
• Maintain an updated database: Keep a record of customer contact information so that they can be accessed easily. A crisis is never planned and hits you when you might least expect it. If a database is easily available, a lot of time is saved and customer service is much more efficient.
• Follow up: Follow ups should be done post a crisis. This serves as feedback for the company as pointers and suggestion could help them improve and be prepared if another crisis were to break out. While customer service may look like a simple job, it involves a lot of patience and is a continuous process. Customer services, especially in times of crisis can make all the difference to you small business.