When it comes to customer service, small businesses face a challenge: we know that it's a number one priority and gets referrals, but when things get busy, we let it fall apart, or we get caught up in doing all the other things that come up along the way.
Here are some thoughts on how to use the web to improve your customer service:
Have a Good CRM
I use BatchBook for my client relationship management (CRM) software. Using this tool, I can put tags with certain customer names, such as "follow-up," "great customer," or "very grateful." In all these cases, I know that I should treat this customer with top-shelf support. If things get too busy, I know how to prioritze.
You don't need special software if you don't mind doing a bit of work. A free solution is a well-kept spreadsheet on Google Docs.
Follow Your Customers
Your customers are on Facebook and/or Twitter. You've probably asked them to join your fan page. Follow them back. Communicate with them endlessly. Be like Mariah at Dogfish Head Brewery and make relationships with everyone who talks with you. The more you can dip into your customers' lives, the more you can help -- and being helpful often means getting more business.
If you grow bigger ears and build a listening station, you'll know what your customers need. People talk, complain and voice their needs. Listen and convert that to business.
Once customer service is top notch, don't forget to seek referrals. This is the best place to get even more customers. Once you've helped someone and really delivered value, they'll want to share your name with others. Make it easy to do so. Consider doing "bring a friend and you both save ___" types of promotions. Consider asking your friends to "like" your Facebook page and to spread the word about your store to their friends. Market with rewards and promotions. Referrals are gold, especially after you've done your best to keep a customer happy. Don't be shy to ask.
Your mileage will vary, but these are just some baseline thoughts. What else do you do to keep your customers elated?