As a small business owner or decision maker, you put a lot of time, effort and resources into finding new customers and employees for your business. Retaining and maintaining loyal customers and employees needs to be a key part of your business strategy to enable growth.
Digital advances have already had a significant impact on customer service for small businesses, and this trend is likely to continue in the future with increasing automation and AI. Here are some ways that digital advances could affect customer service for small businesses and what you need to be aware of as it can be both an enabler and disruptor to your business:
Digital tools such as social media, chatbots, and messaging apps make it easier for you to communicate with your customers in real-time. This enables you to quickly address customer queries, concerns, and complaints, which can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. This also means that customers increasingly have an expectation for this level of communication, so having the processes and operation in place to meet this expectation is necessary.
Digital advances such as data analytics and artificial intelligence can help you personalise their customer service. By analysing customer data, you can tailor your communication, product recommendations, and promotional offers to each of your customer’s preferences and needs. There is also the need for the human personal touch and knowing your customers non tangible preferences. Building that relationship can really support your customer service team to have the ability to react and pivot to customer emotions, unusual situations, or requests.
With digital tools, you can offer round-the-clock customer service. Chatbots and automated responses can handle routine queries and requests, while live agents can provide more personalised support during business hours. It’s absolutely key to look after your staff if you are promoting longer opening hours – they are the face of your business.
Digital tools can help you streamline your customer service processes, reducing the time and resources needed to handle customer inquiries and complaints. This can help you operate more efficiently and effectively. Customers are becoming more aware of talking to bots, not always to the benefit of the business. Knowing your customer preference for an instant response vs human contact is another way to build your customer service satisfaction.
As digital advances continue at a rapid pace, they have the potential to revolutionise customer service for small businesses, enabling you to provide faster, more personalised, and more efficient support to your customers. They also have the potential to provide greater competition and customer switching and lose the intangible learnings from a person-to-person interaction. I’d argue you need to have the processes, culture and operation in place to make your employees and customers feel valued, beyond the digitisation. To make them feel more than just a cog in a digitised machine, but as part of an integrated community where they can belong and align to your business values.