Five customer service tips for small businesses

Published July 15, 2013
Last modified July 15, 2013

For most startups, time and money are in short supply. When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to focus 100% of your energy on the “big idea” and not worry about everything else that it takes to build and run a successful company.

This is exactly the time, however, that it’s critically important to focus on fundamentals like customer service. When you’re just getting started and your customer base is small, you can’t afford to lose business due to a customer service snafu.

Here are five tips for developing a customer-centric mindset as you grow your small business.

1. Get closer to your customers
Just like in your personal life, the best way to develop close, long-lasting relationships with your customers is to devote your time and energy to the process. Ask your customers for their input, listen to what they say, and act on what you learn.

2. Build good will
If you focus on the customer experience when everything is going well, your customers are more likely to forgive and forget when something goes awry.

3. Have a plan
Decide in advance how you’ll respond when a problem erupts. You won’t have to waste time deciding what to do in the heat of the moment if you already have your playbook ready to go.

4. Show genuine concern
Don’t play down a customers’ concerns. Author, speaker, and Zen Master extraordinaire Micah Solomon recommends the opposite approach—what he calls the “Italian Momma method.” Treat upset customers like family and make a fuss over them to defuse the situation.

5. Invest in the right tools
Just like software for email, accounting, and ecommerce, the right customer service tool—like Zendesk—can help you develop long-lasting, meaningful relationships with your customers.

To help founders grow their startups and small companies, Zendesk has joined forces with several other app providers to offer Get Startup Tools. This collection features special deals and discounts on software and services including Zendesk, MailChimp, Box, and Wave.

Get your free small business software toolkit, including one free year of Zendesk