Starting a business is a great achievement in your life, but the first year will be one of the hardest. Customer service can make or break any company, and when you are starting out, it is a great way to show what you are made of. In this article, we share our top ten tips, to help make your first year go as smoothly as possible.
Every successful business started out with a great idea. From Lord Sugar with his conference phones, to John Sainsbury’s with his first store in 1869 on Drury Lane. This is fundamental for your business, as you need to know there is a market for your idea. We know it can be tempting to go straight into production, but what if no one buys? If this has happened to you, you are not alone, but from now on do not let your emotions run the logical side of your brain. Make a pitch, show a sample and get feedback from people you trust about your idea. There needs to be a market for you to go forward.
Now you have got some customers, we are going to talk about your customer service. For some this is often overlooked as they want to provide a great product, rather than a great service, but they both work hand-in-hand. How many times have you had bad customer service in a shop and walked out with a bad feeling? If you treat your customers badly in business, they will feel the same way. No matter how demanding or difficult a client can be, they deserve respect and your full attention.
With your customers being treated like royalty, it is time to start exceeding their expectations. For a start-up, this can be the best way to gain new business, as your great service will spread through word-of-mouth. Exceeding expectations does not need to be difficult or expensive, it is all about making a good impression. This could be anything from meeting a deadline ahead of time, or personally making a delivery rather than using a courier, just so it gets there safely. Going the extra mile, can often turn into good PR, as your customers will want to shout about how good you are.
Having an efficient way of managing your client base is essential when you start to build up a portfolio. Customer management is part of every business’s administrative operations, and if overlooked, you will easily lose track of your customers. How would you feel if your favourite supplier did not remember your name or details? Chances are you would move to someone who cares about their customers. There are a wide range of customer management software available for businesses of all sizes, and when you can access a client’s details with just a click, it will make a great impression. We specialise in providing solutions for customer service and customer management, and you can find out more by clicking here.
When you work in a field you love, it comes across in your work, and you will always put everything into it. Because you are often alone as start-up, you need to have an obsessive passion for your service. If you do not love what you are doing, you will not pull the late nights to meet a deadline or do something special for your client. Customers love it when you show a passion for what you do and it comes through when you are talking to them.
One piece of advice we want to give is not to oversell yourself. If you make promises, which you can’t fulfill, you could lose customers. It will also spread by word-of-mouth very quickly through social media. When you don’t live up to your promises, your customers will be disappointed and might not work with you again. Remember, if you are honest from the start and doing what you can well, your customers will be much happier and respect your honesty.
How many times have you watched Dragons Den, and the the idea is great for the person pitching but useless for anyone else? This is why we say your idea has to be of value to your target audience and it has to make their lives better over your competitors. This is closely linked to point one, but a great idea isn’t just great for you.
Being prepared for the unexpected can be a great for staying calm under pressure. If you suddenly get a burst of business at once, and haven’t got any back up to help deal with it, then it could all go wrong. But if you have a pool of talent at your disposal, even on an ad-hoc basis, you can always bring them in when you need some extra muscle. This will make you look great as it shows you are always ready to handle a lot of business at once. There are some great websites to find freelances from all industries, one of which is Elance.
Thinking big is the fun part of starting a new business as it spurs you on to keep going on and drives your competitive streak. It is also a great trick for you to enjoy playing the long game whilst you are starting out. Theo Paphitis did not become a success over night, but he had the vision and patience to achieve his goal.
Our last piece of advice, goes back to looking after your customers. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, they pay your salary, and will help you to achieve your goals. If you do not look after them, and have not got a customer relationship management system is place, they will drop like flies.
We hope these tips have been helpful and provided you with an extra boost to keep going. The first few years of any business are always difficult, but by doing a good job and looking after your customers, there is no reason why you cannot succeed.
About the author
Our CRM is a professional software development company. Located on the Epping Forest/East London border, we provide small business users across the UK with the original CRM software application for Microsoft SharePoint.