Business Magazine

5 Ways a Small Business Can Go to the Extra Mile for Customers

Posted on the 12 May 2014 by Fleetmatics @fleetmatics

For a vehicle-dependent business, going the extra mile can mean wasted fuel, a late service technician and even an unhappy customer. But for Shawne Portman of South Bay Sedan and Limo Service, it means going above and beyond to create satisfied customers. This San Francisco area transportation service owner has proven that he puts his customers first- as the small business has been granted the 2013 Super Service award on Angie’s List. Not to mention the business’s 4.5 star rating on Yelp, which is no easy feat in an age where the customer is always right. In honor of National Small Business Week, owner and Fleetmatics customer Shawne Portman shares with us his 5 tips for maintaining superior customer relationships.

It is no secret that customer service is of utmost importance for small business success. In a transportation service business like mine, it becomes even more important as word of mouth spreads quickly. If a customer has a bad experience, it becomes critical to address the problem and make necessary changes so it doesn’t happen again.

Remember, superior customer service will never go out of style. Think about the last time you had a bad customer experience. Was the receptionist snippy upon answering the phone? Were the services sub-par? When you are dealing with a customer who may be upset, try to remember the last time you were in that situation. You may not be able to give the customer exactly what he or she wants, but having a positive and understanding attitude may help.

Here are 5 ways to help maintain satisfied customers:

1.Listen to your customers. Make sure that any customer feedback is recorded and transmitted to the correct internal people. It can be helpful to provide comment cards or a link to an online survey to see how the customer experience was. If you use social media, make sure you are paying attention to what your customers are saying about you.

2. Hire courteous and friendly employees. In a small business where many employees are customer-facing, make sure that these employees are friendly people. They are representing your business and have the most interactions with your customers. Encourage them to always remain calm and respectful while dealing with upset customers.

3. Surprise and delight your customers with perks. When a customer requests a limo for a ride to the airport, they expect a limo to pick them up and take them to the airport. They may not expect bottled water and other bonus items like gum or mints to be in the vehicle. Little perks brighten up the customer experience and make your business memorable.

4. Keep tabs on your assets. If your service business has vehicles like mine does, it is helpful to know where they are. In the rare chance that there is an emergency causing a driver or delivery to be late, a customer may want to know what is going on. A fleet management solution can help give an update ASAP.

5. Open the channels of communication. Give your customers several ways to contact you. For instance, our customers can book a reservation via phone or online reservation. What works for some people may not work for others. Some people just don’t like picking up the phone, which is why having an online reservation system is a great idea.

How does your small business maintain satisfied customer relationships? Leave your tips in the comments below.

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