Small businesses are doing big business, often outmaneuvering and out-innovating their Fortune 500 counterparts. Indeed, their small size is a big advantage for many solo businesses, allowing them to adapt to the marketplace and change directions quickly.
Where it poses a challenge is when it comes to the day-to-day customer service. How can you give your customers the care and attention they need and deserve with an org chart of one? Fortunately for solo businesses, many enterprise customer service solutions offer scaled down versions to fit the small-business budget. Here are big customer service solutions for small business.
E-mail auto-responders. These let you begin the customer support relationship from day one when the customer signs up to receive your company newsletter or purchases a product. Constant Contact and MailChimp offer competitive pricing and easy-to-use Web interfaces.
Live Web chat. Live chat lets your Web visitors connect to a live service agent through a chat window. Options range from DIY software and cloud solutions to full-service outsourced customer support from companies like LivePerson.
Virtual customer service agents. Connect with your customers by telephone, live Web chat or e-mail to offer customer support assistance. Often filled by stay-at-home moms looking to work part-time from home, you can post your virtual customer service job on sites like FlexJobs.
Help ticket software. This lets your customers submit a help request through your website. Built-in tracking tools help you manage unresolved complaints and view customer help history. ZenDesk now offers multi-channel support, including Facebook and Twitter.
Online knowledge base. Gives your customers the ability to search for the solution themselves using an intuitive keyword search. All you need to do is post answers to the most common problems.
Social CRM. Takes your customer service relationships to the socialsphere. Listening tools, like Sysomos and Radian6, scan social channels for negative feedback or customer help queries, allowing you to respond in real-time to their social customer service call.
Product fulfillment. Sites like ShipWire offer small businesses group warehousing and distribution. More cost-effective than setting up your own, these services are designed to grow as you grow, offering per order pricing.
Before you commit to any customer-service solution, make sure it has the ability to grow with your business. Watch out for hidden fees, and contract minimums that lock you into a long-term commitment.
Read more advice on providing great customer service.