In our quest to bring small business advice to our office-space tenants and virtual office clients, we have been publishing a number of articles on our blog to help them. One of our Toronto virtual office clients suggested we post about better ways to interact with your customers to improve customer service. So here is more advice…..

virtual office TorontoDecide who supports who and don’t overwhelm your staff with the number of customers they support. Your clients in a business-to-business relationship want to know who they deal with and how easy it is to get in touch with that person who personalizes their sales and service. Assign a rep to each client and give them a back-up rep they can contact in the event of a problem. Each type of business has different personalization needs between customers and the business, so overwhelming a staff member with more clients than he or she can handle will lower your overall customer service perception.

Utilize the element of surprise. By surprising your customers with a gift that has no strings attached and just rewards them for being a customer can go a long way – and can be deliverer with a minimal per customer spend. When it comes to creating reciprocity, the effect isn’t dependent on cost. Respecting and letting your customers know that you care, can make a big difference. Showing them the effort is really what counts. This can be as simple as sending them a birthday card (no, not an e-card) that is handwritten or even a random gift card for a coffee chain.

Finding common ground with your customers can help improve your relationships. Most small businesses have a database of who their prospects and customers are, but they fail to gather personal-interest information to put into that CMS database. There is a psychological concept called “implicit egotism” that basically says that we generally like people more if they are like us or understands us. So when delivering customer service, recreating this “liking” can often be achieved by finding common ground with that customer.

Having a liking for or understanding of customers interests can truly establish a business relationship. Knowing their interests and hobbies can also be an opportunity to show a sincere desire in learning more about the customer and his or her non-business interests. People want to know that you do not just look at at them as a sales target or just someone they are paying. They want to know you have an interest for them outside of the business realm.

Giving credence and acknowledgment to complaints will go further than challenging them. Customer retention is also about delivering results the first time a customer brings an issue to your attention – then resolving it quickly so that it does not become a future issue. If you do not deal with a problem that has occurred, or delay fixing it, you risk not only alienating the customer who brought it to your attention, but other clients who may also become aware of it eventually.