Small Business Customer Service Fails That Drive Your Customers Away

Small Business Customer Service Fails
Small Business Customer Service Fails

Being successful in any business is about constantly doing the right things and avoiding costly mistakes. While numerous factors are responsible for success, providing outstanding customer service that is beyond industry standards is a surefire way to grow. Especially for small businesses that mostly rely on repeat customers, word-of-mouth and referrals.

Unfortunately, a huge number of small business owners refuse to take customer service seriously and keep making the same mistakes again and again. Most of them are fixable and avoidable with a smarter customer service strategy. Here’s the most common of them.

Being inaccessible to customers

Many small businesses are trying to maintain a distance from their customers but it might simply backfire by throwing them right into the arms of their competitors. Finding contact information on your website and getting in touch with your company should be an effortless process for every site visitor. By not having contact details easily accessible or providing inaccurate information (which is even worse) you might be missing out on many potential sales.

Slow email response times

In today’s digital, customer-centric age, time is precious. Highly demanding consumers expect quick answers when questions or problems come up. They don’t really care if you don’t have enough time or resources to handle their queries. For many of them, waiting for hours to get an email response with the answer to a simple question seems like an extraordinarily long time. That’s why improving email support and making it faster is a must for small businesses.

Not offering multichannel support

Even though phone and email still remain the most frequently used channels for the majority of consumers to get in touch with brands, they do expect to be able to use different customer support channels. For lots of small businesses implementing Live Chat still seems an almost impossible task with limited time and resources to handle this customer support channel. But in fact, even if you can’t run your Live Support Chat 24/7, it can still be very effective with the right strategy.

Ignoring social media

Whether you like it or not, customer service has gone social. While managing all social media accounts can be tough for small business owners, ignoring them is not an option either. Your customers are already there and the conversation about your brand is already going, the question is – will you participate? Social customer service doesn’t have to be that hard and time consuming. It can be optimized by using various tools to track mentions of your company across social networks. The key is to respond to them publicly and immediately.

Failing to train employees

At small businesses, every single employee, from the bottom line to the top, will most likely have to interact with customers at some level. That’s why each of them should not only perfectly know your products or services, but also be properly trained on at least basic customer service skills. Every customer interaction matters as it can influence your business reputation. Negative customer experiences spread like fire and might easily scare your potential customers away.

Being afraid of negative feedback

Customer’s feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is always an amazing opportunity to learn what you’re doing right and where your products, services or business processes need improvement. So why not ask you customers? Small business owners are often afraid of negative feedback because they don’t quite realize its value. The truth is when your customers honestly tell you they’re not satisfied with something, they actually show you what you need to focus your efforts on and help you make better business decisions.

Is your small business guilty of any of the listed above customer service mistakes? Admitting them and realizing that they could be fixed and avoided in future is the first step to improving your customer service strategy.

Provide Support is a leading software provider in customer service, offering live chat and real-time visitor monitoring tool for businesses: www.ProvideSupport.com

Mary Shulzhenko
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Mary Shulzhenko

Assistant Marketing Director at Provide Support, LLC
Mary is an Assistant Marketing Director at Provide Support, LLC. She is a writer and blogger on customer service, customer support and customer experience.
Mary Shulzhenko
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15 thoughts on “Small Business Customer Service Fails That Drive Your Customers Away

  1. Short and sweet, which is how a post should be. Mary, you cover all the bases, yet in essence it is pure common-sense. Funny how so many companies still get this wrong, which maybe explains why we remember service that is exceptional, in short because it is such a rare occurrence!

    1. Thank you Simon, a lot of companies just seem to forget the basics and the fact that without customers there is no business.

  2. Good points! We live in a multi-channel world, and while it can be challenging for small to medium size businesses, social media can’t be ignored, and chat is desired by many customers.

  3. AAA – American Automobile Association lost me after 28 years as a customer after an employee continued to argue with me when I pointed out something on their website that was confusing and caused me to make an payment error that was going to double bill my checking account. It was unbelievable. He kept trying to put it back on me, and I have been on both sides of online payment processing since 1996.

    Not that they care, but I made sure that his supervisor knew exactly that I was leaving for other options to send a message about his horrible performance as a customer service rep. Though they charged more, they had a superior service that I felt was worth the money.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Reid. Non professional staff is probably one of the main reasons why businesses lose their customers today.

  4. i agree with most of the written comments. i have dealt with various types of customers in trying to sell storage sheds. one thing you learn is to listen to what your customers are trying to tell you which their needs are so that you can get them the right fit for their needs. we tend to sometimes forget to listen, instead decide to try to convince them of something else. this will not work as those are not what they want.

    1. Thank you Bennie, you’re so right. To provide a truly great customer service we need to learn to listen to our customers and understand their needs.

  5. Very appropriate guidelines,thanks Madam.Small businesses are suffering also due to non-ability to retail staff.as salaries are low ,the trained staff look for better opportunities or leave you and start competitive business.

  6. Possibly implied in your accessibility statement is the number one :”customer un-service” items I can think of. Dump the automatic answering systems with “do Loop” menus and have a real person answer the phone every time. People don’t want to talk to your computer system, they want answers and information from a real person.

  7. I believe all is true but the issue is are these companies willing and ready to take up the challenge, be devoted and commited to see strategies as mention employed at the expense of their small resources. Some just fear the long term investments though it would pay off at the end because they see themselves to be small hence want to invest small and short but not long.

    1. Thank you Raphael, you are spot on! A lot of small businesses are simply afraid of long term investments.

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