In running your small business, what in your mind stands out as to why you’re successful or struggling?

Some small business owners will tell you that the reason they are successful is due to their customer service initiatives.

Others, meantime, will offer that their customer service efforts need a little enhancing.

No matter which category your small business falls under, it is important to always keep in mind the level of importance to which customer service means in running a company.

Do Your Customer Like or Dislike Your Efforts?

When it comes to properly doing customer service, you must have several components in place, much like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

These include:

  • Hard-working employees – It all typically begins with those individuals you hire. Remember, without your employees, you’d likely be struggling to put forth solid customer service initiatives. If you are the only employee, then you are fully responsible for making sure customer service is a high priority. In the event you do have employees, make sure as part of the interview/hiring process that they understand the importance of stellar customer service. Without it, your small business could be hanging up a permanently closed You should also meet regularly with your employees to go over your customer service efforts, looking to see what is working and what in fact needs work;
  • Solve problems, don’t create them – Whether your small business sells items for home improvement, medical supplies, plastic injection molding, vehicle supplies, insurance, legal needs or a whole host of other products and services, you never want to create problems for your customers. That said how do you head-off a problem early on before it becomes just that? One way is to respond to customer inquiries (and problems) as soon as possible. If a customer feels like you’re just looking at them as another number and quite frankly another sale, why would they want to come back to you time and time again? Give them a reason to want to do business with you regularly by answering all their questions and solving whatever problems may arise. It is also important that your employees (and you if you’re the sole employee) have a positive attitude when dealing with customers. Yes, some of them may get under your skin from time to time, but always be quick to remember that they in essence are paying your salary;
  • Reward long-time customers – For many customers, the idea of feeling special to a small business owner is important. With that being the case, treat them like they are special. You can reward them with savings and deals on your products and/or services; something that is especially important in today’s challenging economy. When customers feel like you are going out of your way for them, they are more likely to refer your small business to their friends and family, thereby leading to more potential sales. Let customers know early on that your brand does offer rewards for those individuals that stick with you over time, giving them incentive to do just that;
  • Do what the competition won’t do – Another way to win over customers is by standing apart from your competition. It is common for small businesses to try and outdo one another, giving them a leg up on the competition. In doing so, some are winners and some are losers. Make sure your small business is in the former category. You can achieve this by pointing out to current and potential customers that your brand is far and above their best option. While you should never go out of your way to badmouth a competitor, simply let the buying public know why your small business is the one they should turn to. Doing this will also make some or all of your competitors follow suit, making for an interesting game of cat and mouse.

Given many small businesses run on tight budgets simply due to their size and manpower (or lack thereof), it is crucial that you single out why your brand’s customer service is head and shoulders above everyone else.

In doing so, you can give your customer service a high rating.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.