As a fellow small business owner, I love supporting other small businesses by purchasing their products or using their services – and/or referring them to others. However, for one-man and one-woman businesses it is SO important to provide top customer service to make you stand out from the rest, with great communication being at the top of the list.
But unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur.
I’ve dealt with a few small businesses recently and have experienced a lot of communication issues. I’m a very patient and forgiving person, but these experiences have left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m hoping you, dear reader, don’t let the communication side of things fall away!
One small business I dealt with had fantastic communication and customer service in the initial stages. But then after paying all this money upfront (and it wasn’t a cheap expense) it then took months and months to receive the products purchased – and I had to keep following up and threatening to go to the Department of Fair Trading when all communication dropped off completely. I later found out that there had been lots of personal issues and fire damage to the original batch of products. I would have totally understood IF I had AT LEAST received an SMS to tell me about the delay. But to not communicate with the customer and provide updates was totally ‘not cool’.
Another business owner came out to our home to provide a service. She gave us some great ideas and we all went away feeling inspired and waited for her to touch base with us about the next steps. But she never did. I would message to ask about progress and eventually got dribs and drabs of ideas via Facebook messenger – not even via an email in a professional layout or mentioning any pricing for us to consider. I haven’t heard from her in ages, but my husband and I are now looking into things ourselves. Thankfully, we haven’t received an invoice and we’re not going to pay a cent.
But I don’t want this blog post to turn into a whinge-fest. I have experienced some fantastic small businesses that emailed when they said they would, touched base in a timely matter after a meeting, and left me feeling great! And I have since referred them to others.
Back in my days of sales training, I was told to manage the client’s expectations. Don’t say you’ll email when you won’t. If you claim that you’ll be starting on a project for a client this week but something comes up, just drop them a line to let them know. If you’re too busy with other projects to take on anything new right now, just say so and schedule them in for when you’re less busy. I find that if I just let my clients know what’s going on, then they are usually quite forgiving about delays – unless something is urgent.
It can just take 20 seconds of your day to send an SMS, yet it is much, much more valuable to your business in the long run!