Attention, entrepreneurs: Offering better customer service may be the key to growing your business, regardless of the industry you’re in.
When you’re working to start your business and get it off the ground, offering excellent customer service might be a big part of your strategy, officially or not. In the early days, when you’re so personally involved and invested in your business, offering great customer service comes naturally.
You reply to every tweet, are thrilled to spend time on the phone with customers to answer questions and forge relationships, and watch your Google mentions like a hawk.
But that level of involvement isn’t sustainable for very long, as you’ll see in the following example.
Growing your business is a lot like parenting
It’s a lot like becoming a parent. The first few months of your child’s life are spent with you constantly peering over their shoulder, making sure they eat as often as needed, turning them over as they sleep, and monitoring the state of their diaper affairs.
It’s an involved job, but one that you do happily because the baby is new, you’re very proud, and oh my gosh, do you love them. It’s not exactly sustainable, however, because eventually you’ll need to sleep more than 2 hours at a time and take a shower.
Your doting, love, and care ensure that your baby can grow properly and without extra difficulties. They start becoming more independent. Now, they’re eating solid foods and throwing things at you. Crawling. Walking. Beginning to talk. Potty training.
You find yourself less and less involved with their everyday functions while still remaining totally invested in the health and happiness of your baby.
This is similar to what happens when you start and begin growing your business.
At first, you’re heavily involved in every aspect of the company and absolutely loving it – you wouldn’t have it any other way. You go above and beyond in your business efforts, including offering great customer service, because you’re passionate and excited about the venture.
But that level of involvement can’t be sustained forever. As the business grows, it’s natural to take a step back from the heavy involvement and begin focusing on the priorities that matter most to your business (just like when you potty train your child and begin focusing more on the heavy-hitter parenting priorities like teaching them right from wrong).
And just like the parent example, you remain totally invested in the success of your business even while taking a step back and becoming less involved in the everyday function.
Growing your business means offering better customer service
One mistake we see entrepreneurs making in this critical juncture of growth is letting customer service slide into the background.
That’s problematic, because offering lower-quality customer service when you’re trying to grow can actually cause the opposite to happen. Even if everything else is spot-on at your company – competitive prices, smart industry placement, cutting-edge marketing, generous investors – bad customer service has the power to stop business growth in its tracks and undo the progress you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Great customer service allows you to grow
But just like bad customer service can stop or reverse business growth, offering better customer service can foster more stable business growth.
In industries where great customer service is rare, you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors by offering better customer service than customers in the industry are used to receiving. For example: In the ever-churning Buffer vs. Hootsuite battle, Buffer usually comes out on top, despite offering fewer features than Hootsuite, because of its amazing customer service.
And in industries where great customer service is the norm, you won’t be able to tread water very long without meeting or exceeding the level of customer service your competitors are offering. There is no circumstance that makes customer service an unimportant factor of business growth – in every industry and sector, customer service is a deciding factor in how successful your business can be.
The limiting factor
Sometimes growth doesn’t happen when you expect it to. You might pore over your pricing models, industry trends, and marketing strategies in an attempt to figure out what’s stopping you from growing. The limiting factor for your business might be customer service. It doesn’t have to be hideously bad customer service to keep your business from reaching its potential.
One thing you can do to get your business over the hump and leave the plateau behind is upgrade your customer service. Surprise them! Offer something you haven’t before. Make your company more available by offering new channels of customer service.
Whatever you decide to do with your customer service, this is the most important thing: Stay involved.
You won’t necessarily be handling the day to day execution of customer service as you’re growing your business, but you need to consider yourself the parent that lovingly ‘stalks’ their teenager to keep them out of trouble. Know what’s happening in your customer service. Monitor all exchanges. Track and analyze any changes you make. Make changes to your strategy in response to what you learn.