The Art of Customer Service every business should adopt

As important as branding and advertising are, one of the most important elements of selling a product/service is customer service.

Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the a lot of countries, especially the Ghanaian business model.

Small businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.

In case you didn’t know, people are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself if you are running a run man show.

Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience, and post-purchase experience

So what does this mean for your business? 

Pre-purchase experience

This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising?

Are people speaking positively about your brand?

Purchase experience

This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card?

There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favorite is Storefoundry, it works very well for small businesses in Ghana.

If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help?

Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?

Post-purchase experience

This covers your follow-ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?

Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.

  • Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to stay up to date on customer relationship trends and train yourself to always put the customer first.  If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace. Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a salesperson.
Hiring the right people will allow you to build the right company culture that is well aligned with the brand Click To Tweet
  • Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serve many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Get to know your customers personally, are they parents? Do they celebrate religious holidays? Make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
Reminding customers that you have them on your mind will make them feel involved with the brand. Click To Tweet
  • Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.

 

  • Appearance – You and your staff’s appearance is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.

The best way to make sure your customer service is on point is to align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience to ensure a smooth transaction!

Go forth and provide an excellent service!

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The mentorship advantage

She Hive Accra

Sugar. Spice. And everything nice.

What do you need to be a successful entrepreneur? More than it takes to make the Powerpuff Girls. Some say passion, commitment, and willpower are top of the list —all very true. I believe to be a successful entrepreneur you need a viable business model and a good mentor.

What is the role of a mentor?

One of my favorite books on this topic is, “Expect to win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace” by Carla A. Harris. She defines a mentor as “someone you rely upon to give you good, tailored developmental advice”.

According to Futurpreneur Canada, the advantages of having a mentor are described in six points.

A mentor helps you:

  • Gain insights and perspective by having someone to bounce your ideas off of
  • Focus on and strategically work towards your business vision
  • Shorten your learning curve
  • Identify opportunities and risk by learning with someone experienced
  • Grow and enhance your business network and acumen
  • Build confidence knowing you have someone in your corner

Key traits of mentors

As I write this, I think of all my mentors and the two key traits they all share:

  • Expertise and integrity: Find a mentor you believe to be brilliant, knowledgeable and trust worthy. You want your mentor to be someone you will listen to because you trust their expertise
  • Genuine interest in my development: This is what I call the mentor/mentee chemistry. Choose a mentor who is genuinely interested in who you are, understands your strengths and weakness and wants to help you develop and grow. Mentorship is a deep and personal relationship and for the relationship to be truly useful, you both must feel safe sharing the “good, bad and ugly”

How to be a good mentee

Having discussed the importance of mentorship and what to look for in a mentor, how do you become a good mentee?

  • Listen
  • Consider the advice you get and apply when relevant (This is why your mentor has to be someone you can trust)
  • Set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable
  • Ask for feedback and provide feedback in return
  • Be honest and communicate openly with your mentor
  • Invest time and effort in your relationship
  • Most importantly, as a mentee, remember to pay it forward

Peer mentorship is a form of mentorship that is often neglected but I find very valuable especially in my professional and business life. Keep in mind; your mentor must have some expertise and be genuinely interested in who you are and your development from a point of low self-interest. Many times, you can find these qualities in a peer.

To my mentors:

Thank you for teaching me to be positive and fiercely myself. Reminding me I have all I need, to be who I want to be—a healthy mind and body. Thank you for demanding I think big. Because, why the heck not.