customer service

To call the last year a “challenge,” would likely be an understatement.  Individuals, families, businesses, front-line workers, everyone really has been in a state of unknown and constant adaptation.  The good news is, things are starting to look up!

You can already see the shift as traffic increases, the beaches, and lakes fill, and more people walk through the doors of NH’s fine small businesses.  The summer tourism season is back!  Are you ready to provide your customers with the positive experience they need right now?

It’s true that customer service is always important, but this year it’s more so as we consider the individual struggles people have experienced over the past year.  Here are some things to consider.

You have to remember the basics.  Think about what you enjoy about being a customer and do that! Treat your customers the way you like to be treated.  This means welcoming them in with a warm smile, friendly greeting, and pleasant conversation.  It goes a long way when you know their name, have a genuine conversation with them and treat them fairly.  They have many choices in which small businesses to support, so thank them for choosing you and give them an experience that makes them want to return.

Safety is also paramount.  Have a clean environment, enforce all state and federal safety guidelines, and know that it’s okay if you and/or your business are not ready to return to “business as usual” aka pre-COVID.  We’re coming out of an unprecedented year and many are filled with uncertainty, so it’s important to respect the comfort levels of your customers and employees.

We know you’re excited to see more of your customers face-to-face again, but don’t ignore your digital presence!  Use social media and/or email marketing to let your customers know what you’re up to and be sure to respond to their questions and comments.  Responding shows you care, even when the comment may not be so positive.  Speaking of which, encourage your customers to give you reviews and respond to them.  Feedback, both positive and negative can be helpful data for you as you consider ways to improve.  Lastly, your online customers matter too, so don’t forget to say “Thank You” for those online sales.  A simple automatic email or discount code is a great way to do this.

You can’t accomplish all of the above without your employees, so don’t forget to keep them in the loop. Inform them of your expectations, so they are on board with providing the customer service you want your business to be known for and ensuring that service is consistent.  Listen to your employees as well!  They may have their own ideas and concerns and you want them to feel safe, heard, and appreciated.  This leads to a trickle-down effect resulting in happier employees and customers.

Keep these things in mind and practice them daily.  As you know, customers are the key to your success. After a tough year, customers are craving a positive experience that makes them feel connected to the business. You and your employees have the power to help make their first vacation (or staycation) since the pandemic a memorable one. 

Thank you to the Maine SBDC for the inspiration for this article.

Download SBDC's Summer 2021 Customer Service Checklist