No small business can afford to lose the goodwill of its customers – especially in the digital age. Unsatisfied consumers won’t hesitate to leave less-than-stellar online feedback for businesses they feel have wronged them, and just one scathing review can cause considerable problems for your brand. Furthermore, search engines have made it possible for disgruntled consumers to instantly find competitors for any businesses that’s done them dirty. So, if you’re looking to avoid drawing the ire of your patrons, make sure to familiarize yourself with some of the most common things small businesses do that can deter customers.
Failing to Keep Them in the Know
Loyal patrons love being kept abreast of what’s happening with your business. Whether it’s new hours of operation, price changes or anything else that stands to impact their experiences with your establishment, your regulars are sure to appreciate being kept in the loop. Additionally, the sooner they’re informed of certain changes, the less annoyed they’re likely to be when said changes actually go into effect. So, if you aren’t currently taking measures to keep your repeat customers in the know, that needs to change.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to go about this task. For starters, if your business doesn’t have an active presence on social media – or any presence on social media – create accounts on the web’s leading social platforms. Posting important announcements on your various accounts can be a great way to ensure that they’re seen by regular customers and prospective patrons alike. You can also use social media as a vehicle through which to grow your customer base by creating engaging posts, updating your accounts on a consistent basis and encouraging audience interaction.
You can also post important announcements on your business’s website. However, if you don’t update this site on a regular basis, many of your repeat patrons may not feel the need to consistently check back. With this in mind, consider maintaining a weekly blog. In addition to providing your regulars with incentive to check in at least once a week, posting new blog content every week may also help boost your site’s search ranking – especially if you integrate keywords that are relevant to both your business and its location.
If your business has a customer mailing list, you may also want to consider utilizing bulk text solutions. This way, whenever there’s an important announcement or forthcoming change, you can instantly inform your most loyal patrons.
Taking Too Long to Respond to Inquiries
No one likes being kept waiting – especially in customer service situations. So, if you’ve developed an unfortunate habit of placing emails, text messages and other communiques from customers on the backburner, don’t be surprised if you start seeing a drop in repeat business. While there’s no denying that people get busy, keeping customers waiting for days – or even weeks – for a response to their questions and concerns is simply unacceptable.
With this in mind, make a point of waiting no longer than 24 hours to respond to communiques from customers. Furthermore, if an inquiry is received doing regular business hours, try to provide a response by the end of the day. Just remember – the longer customers have to wait for responses, the more likely they are to take their patronage to one of your competitors.
Refusing to Acknowledge Mistakes
Refusing to acknowledge mistakes is never an endearing personality trait – especially in business owners. The less willing you are to own up to mistakes made on the part of your business, the less willing many customers will be to provide you with repeat business. So, if your immediate response to every customer grievance is to outright deny any and all culpability, make a genuine effort to start seeing things from your patrons’ perspective and issuing apologies whenever necessary.
Being attentive to customer needs is more important than ever before. In the age of instant feedback, disgruntled patrons are all-too-happy to scatter damaging online reviews for businesses that displease them all over the web. While it’s true that some customers are simply impossible to please, the majority of consumers are generally willing to cut businesses some slack if they feel like a genuine effort is being made to please them. In the interest of satisfying first-time customers and repeat patrons alike, take care to avoid the behaviors discussed above.
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