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Small business customer service | How to make a customer happy

Updated on November 11, 2011

Customer service

Customer service has always been important for all businesses; but it is all the more vital for a small business to provide good customer service so as to not just satisfy the customer, but to delight him so much that he keeps coming back.

In many ways a small business will find it difficult to compete or even sustain against a large business. Big businesses have resources of money, experience, marketing network, brand names etc that far exceed what a small business can have. But customer service is something in which a small business is often not in such a disadvantageous position; it can often do many creative things that do not require huge resources and that make customers keep coming back to them. Of course the business must at its core really care for the customer and must want to delight her.

Small business customer service - some tips

Here are a few things that small business can do to make a customer happy:

1. Respond promptly: This is very basic and may seem out of place here, but this is something which has the potential to really irritate the customer (if you don't respond) or really make her happy. Just think, as a consumer how often have you been put on hold (sometimes the music is good!) when you call for a customer complaint, or even to fix an appointment with your doctor/broker etc. People are busy and don't appreciate waiting, as a corollary they really appreciate promptness. Address your customer's queries promptly, whether it is a clarification, complaint or query about your product/service - and see how happy your customers are.

2. Have a single point of contact as far as possible: This may be difficult for large businesses with so many clients and departments, for a small business this would be easier. Customers would appreciate it.

3. Empower the single point/first point of contact to resolve issues: The first person a customer reaches in your organization should be empowered to resolve her issue on the spot (unless it is a big issue), without having to 'check company policy' or give out a 'complaint ticket number and wait' or 'check with superiors'. This will really delight customers whose valuable time will be saved.

4. Give a little extra: Always give a little more than agreed. You will be surprised how much that little bit extra will be appreciated. It may not be a big difference monetarily, but people love to get something more. When my fruit vendor throws in an extra guava free in my bag I am delighted. There is an old tale of the grocery shop owner instructing his son (new entrant to the business) on how to measure out things - "son, if a customer asks for 1 kg, always put a little less into the weighing pan first and then in front of the customer add the item onto the weighing pan until it becomes 1 kg - don't put in a little more at first and then take out until it becomes 1 kg. Although the end result is 1 kg either way, in the first way the customer feel he is getting more and he is happy!" Of course I am not recommending just a cosmetic display like this, you must really try to give that extra bit more by way of product or service, in short always over-deliver.

5. Don't forget the personal touch. My mother used to buy groceries from a small 'mom and pop' grocery store for ages - even after a huge supermarket came up with perhaps better pricing - because of the personalized service offered by the small shop who was our supplier for a long time.

Never underestimate the potential of customer service

Customer service that is good really delights the customer. It will help you not only retain the customer but also help you acquire new customers, since a satisfied customer can spread the word. 

Do you remember any time when as a customer you were delighted by the service

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