Customer service used to be an afterthought. The only goal was to make sure that customers didn't complain too much. Fast forward to 2013 and with the Internet, customer service needs to now become a strategic part of any small business. With customers broadcasting their opinion over social media, they have a real effect on the sales of every company. Michael Luca at Harvard Business School reveals that a one-star rating increase on Yelp can lead to a 9 percent increase in sale. Even more startling is that Cone Research states that 80 percent of customers will actually reverse their decision after reading a online negative review.
As a result, Itay Erez, of Samanage, says that customer service now requires different tools in 2013. They include:
1. A dedicated social media staff. Customers are giving feedback on Twitter and Facebook. Every small business needs to engage with them every day in real time.
2. A company YouTube channel. Erez says that this can be used effectively for how-to-videos or to answer frequent customer questions.
3. A company blog. This is another way to keep the customer engaged without just selling to them all the time.
Customers need to be able to interact and to give feedback to the company at every phase of the sale cycle by email, phone or social media. While this makes the process slightly more complicated, using these tools will create an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects so the company can be there when those people are ready to buy. Investments in customer service in 2013 will pay off more than ever before.
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