Customer service is one of the key linchpins of small business success. Do it poorly and you’ll drive your customers away, do it well and it can pay off in ways you never expected.
As a small business owner, you should always work on improving customer service. That means:
- Understanding the value of good customer service;
- Keeping an eye on trends and statistics;
- Building a solid customer service team;
- Staying on top of the latest tips and tools;
- Figuring out how to manage your team; and
- Learning from real-world customer service examples, both positive and negative.
Guide to Improving Customer Service
Small Business Trends has been reporting on the world of customer service for years and has an archive chock-full of the information you need to excel at serving your customers. Below, in one spot, you can find the information you need to improve your customer service.
Understanding the Value of Good Customer Service
No matter how much time and resources you spend improving customer service, you’ll likely make it back in spades. Here are three posts that focus on the value of good customer service.
Customer Service Matters Much More Than You May Think
Here you’ll find three bottom-line examples  of the value of customer service. One important takeaway from this post: not all of the effects of good customer service are outward-facing. Some of them impact your employees as well.
Don’t Forget About Real Customer Service
The timeless bottom-line in this anecdotal post  is this: you cannot pay lip service to customer service. It underlies critical parts of your business from brand identity to authority and authenticity.
How Much Can Poor Customer Service Cost Your Business? Read On
Finally, here are a few solid statistics  on the value your customers put on service and the bottom line impact of not meeting those expectations.
Keeping an Eye on Customer Service Trends and Statistics
As with most facets of your small business, customer service is always changing and evolving. Staying on top of these trends is your key to improving customer service. It also helps to pay attention to the latest customer service statistics. What you learn may be surprising, but almost always useful.
7 Trends Impacting Customer Service in 2016
Thanks to the continued advance of customer service techniques and technologies, these seven trends  have become important to success.
Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar: Customer Service Will Not Exist in 10 Years
Customer service will evolve so much in the next decade that one thought leader believes  you won’t even recognize the function after that time has passed.
While we hear about how important it is to be a “mobile-first” business today, it’s no more important to the success of a company than being thought of as a service first organization .
Your Customers Want Fast, Human Customer Service
The title may seem like it says it all here however, there’s more at play than speed . Customers also want some human attention.
Nearly One Fourth of Customer Complaints Aren’t Due to Bad Service but to Rudeness
This eye-opening survey  revealed why 67 percent of all customer complaints should never really happen. Discover how to avoid them in your business.
Warning: Your Customer Service Isn’t As Great as You Think It Is
You may believe you’re great at customer service, but do your customers? This survey discovered  that customers are generally not as happy with the your customer service as you are.
Building a Solid Customer Service Team
At the core of great customer service is a great customer service team. Here’s some links that should help you build a top team of your own.
How to Hire for Customer Support
It all starts with hiring the right people. Here’s are some tips  to use when putting your process in place.
20 Tips for Building Your Customer Service Team
Once your team is on board, here are 20 ways to help them be successful .
Lesson.ly Says It Can Train Your Customer Service Team
Employee training is a vital part of improving customer service. Lesson.ly is one tool  that you can use to get everyone up to speed.
Rich Pearson of Upwork: Using the Cloud to Spin Up Distributed Customer Support Teams On Demand 
3 Tips for Hiring Millennials to Work in Customer Service
Finally, if you want to add Millennials to your customer service team, here are a few tips for hiring them .
Staying On Top Of the Latest Tips and Tools
Looking for tips outside your own company help you learn new ways of doing things. And speaking of new ways, new tools arrive every day, many of which will come in handy when improving customer service.
20 Tricks of the Trade to Develop Superior Customer Service
Here are 20 “tricks of the trade”  to develop superior customer service that will also attract new customers.
5 Customer Service Tips For Modern Businesses
Every person wants to feel important, and like their needs and issues are being met with sincerity and competence. Here are five ways  of doing just that.
Guide to Providing Excellent Customer Service on Etsy and eBay
If you sell on either of these ecommerce platforms, these tips  will help you provide a superior customer experience.
How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store
The next time you have and angry customer in your store, use these tips  to handle the situation.
How to Come Back from a Customer Service FAIL
There are going to be times when you flat-out fail a customer. Here are some tips  on how to regain your footing and perhaps even win that customer back.
Using Social Media to Manage Customer Service
Social media can be an invaluable customer service tool, but only if used correctly .
5 Quick Tips for Customer Service Strategy with Social Media
Another post full of advice  on how to use social media for customer service.
How to Use Twitter for Customer Service
This post focuses in on, you guessed it, using Twitter to provide customer service .
How to Balance Engagement and Customer Service on Twitter
Since social media can be used for both engagement and customer service, how do you balance the two ?
Get Your Customer Service in Shape for the Holidays
The holiday season is an especially busy time and in the rush, customer service can fall by the wayside. Here’s how to prevent that from happening .
Do You Have an eCommerce Customer Service Plan for the Holidays?
Customer service is especially important online where folks don’t have the opportunity to receive much human interaction. Here’s how to compensate for that , especially during the holidays.
10 Creative and Efficient Customer Service Solutions
Here are ten tools  that small businesses can use to provide superior customer service.
10 Must Have Amazing Customer Service Apps
Another great list of ten customer service apps for small businesses .
Ten Help Desk Solutions for Better Customer Service
If you’re looking for a help desk solution  for your customer service team, one of these might do the trick.
In-App Customer Interaction: A Bold New Service Approach
Using Live Chat Apps for Customer Service
While it’s an older approach, live chat is still a valuable customer service tool .
7 Ways to Automate Conversations with Your Customers
Automation’s all the rage these days so here are seven touch points  where you can automate your customer service.
Use Chatbots to Connect with Customers in a More Personal Way
You can’t bring up automation without mentioning chatbots , a hot technology in customer service today.
Figuring Out How to Manage Your Team
Managing your customer service team is an ongoing process. Here are some posts to help you during the journey.
10 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Customer Service Robot
One of the most important aspect of customer service is authenticity. Here are some tips  on helping your team retain theirs.
14 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Measure Customer Service
Good management is all about measurement. Here are several suggested customer service metrics to track .
Customer Service Is Not a Silo
Great customer service is not created in a vacuum. Your team needs to be connected  to the rest of your company to be successful.
Customer Service Must be Part of Your Process
Here’s a look at how you can integrate customer service  throughout your organization.
The Myth of Customer Service
Part of being a good manager is taking a reality check on a regular basis. Here’s how to do so in regards to customer service .
What Customers Expect is Good Service, What Customers Crave Are Awesome Experiences
Finally, if you’re looking for a good book on customer service, this is one to check out .
Learning from Real-World Customer Service Examples, Both Positive and Negative
Finally, here are some real-world lessons to review when considering what to do, and not to do, when improving customer service:
- Tu Nguyen of Gongshow Gear: Providing Automated Real-Time Customer Service 
- Reverse Customer Service Strategy 
- Starbucks Triggers Customer Service Drama 
- 5 Customer Service Lessons From Yahoo’s Missteps 
- 7 Lessons About Customer Service … From the Sage Listens Tour 
- Tushar Makhija of Helpshift: Using Proactive Support to Provide Great Mobile Customer Service 
- Success Story: How Personal Customer Service Grew This Business 
- Customer Service Lessons from a Jacksonville Taxi Driver 
- Amy Downs of Lifesize: Subscription Businesses Need Customer Service at its Core to Drive Success 
Customer Service  Photo via Shutterstock