The idea of taking our talents and passions to the next level and turning it into a business is incredibly exciting. The thought that people will want to actually PAY for what I / we create is one heck of a piece of awesome. And the truth of it all is that happy customers spreading the word is what truly grows a small artisan business. Customer reviews matter!
But when we take that leap and find ourselves running a business it is essential that we take a beat and are prepared for some of the changes that will come. Sometimes talent isn't enough. Once we make the leap into a business it is essential to shift our mindset to be successful. Our art then becomes only part of the package. We must now center our focus on the customer experience.
I recently had a horrible customer service experience with a small artisan business. Part of me was so frustrated as a customer I wanted to scream. It was in actuality one of the most horrible customer experiences I have ever had. But more importantly than that, part of me was sad & frustrated as a fellow artisan small business owner that this person and her business simply do not have the basics for a successful customer service program. And the worst part was that in the whole exchange she wasn't even open to feedback to see this.
In the case of my recent experience, this artisan was simply unprepared to handle an influx of business, meet delivery dates and couldn't deliver on promises she made. She lacked customer communication skills to solve problems. All of which are essential in customer service. Especially the communication.
This experience is what inspired me to want to do a Customer Service series and why I've invited a few of my favorite small business owners who I also think have exceptional customer service to share their perspective on winning customer service.
Over the series we will cover:
The Basics: 5 Things Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know
It's OK To Say No
Custom Orders & The Collaborative Experience
Turning Mistakes Into Rave Reviews
First up: Krista Cagle from the Yarn Mamas and the basics of what every small business needs to know and do.
Now, if you follow me on Social media then you know I am practically a walking billboard of advertisement for the Yarn Mamas gear. Yes, Krista curates and serves up top quality and fabulous offerings. Comfy cozy wear and coffee mugs that keep my creative vibes flowing. But way more than that, her customer service is beyond reproach if you ask me. Aside from products I love, it is the thing that keeps me coming back again and again. In an era where we have choices of where to spend our dollars, I prefer to spend mine with small businesses who put the customer experience first. Krista embodies that concept. I thought she would be the perfect person to kick this series off with the basics:
5 Things every Small Business Owner Should Know and Do
Customer service is an important part of every small business. Here are five of the top things that I have done to create a positive experience for my business and brand.
1. Ask for Help
My business YarnMamas is built under my franchise Rescued Paw Designs. When I first started I quickly realized how incredibly hard, time consuming and stressful it can be to run two small businesses simultaneously. I felt like I was being pulled in many directions and I knew that if I wanted to continue to bring the same quality product to my customers, something had to change. I learned an important lesson: Don’t try to run a small business all on your own, ask for help. Once I hired a Virtual Assistant I was able to focus more on the quality of my product, customer feedback and building designs, which improved my overall customer service satisfaction.
2. Engage Customers on Social Media
I make it a top priority to engage my customers on social media. It shows consumers that you care, that you’re listening, and that you want to be involved. When sharing others projects and posts you are creating a community around your brand.
3. Respond Quickly to Questions
I make sure to respond quickly and promptly to customer questions and to always keep them informed of their orders. My customers are notified, via messenger & email, when their order is placed, shipped and delivered. This has helped tremendously with customer satisfaction. I also send a follow up email after the customer’s order has been delivered, asking for feedback. It is important to keep communication open between you and the customer. If there ever is a concern, I always make sure to rectify the issue so my customers will want to come back again.
4. Listen to Customers Ideas
I occasionally receive messages from my customers who are looking for a particular design or look. I always keep the feedback of my customers in mind when I’m designing my clothes. I want my customers to feel heard and also, I want to make my customers happy and coming back for more. So when running your small business, always brainstorm new ideas and listen to your customer ideas (they know what they want!).
5. Updated Email List
An easy, but important aspect to customer service is to keep up an updated email list of your customers. It’s as simple as putting an email signup form on your website (I use hello bar) or an opt in button on your checkout page asking if they would like to receive marketing. I use this email list to send important updates, new designs alerts and as a way to keep past/potential customers engaged in my business. People lead very busy lives and it’s important to keep customers interested and informed about your business so they keep coming back.
I LOVE Krista's approach to the basics. It is those fundamentals that have set her new business on track to soar. What is your Customer Service approach? Share in the comments below.