Conventional wisdom would have it that women business owners should excel in customer service. After all, we women are supposed to be tuned in to human relationships, touchy-feely and detail-oriented—all things that should make us experts at customer service, right?
Apparently, wrong. According to the latest Key4Women/Forbes Insights report,“Strategies for the Recovery: Woman-Owned Small Businesses Put the Customer First,” 69 percent of women-owned businesses surveyed say “improving customer service is critical to [their] abilities to recover from the recession.” But just 18 percent have a formal, company-wide customer-service policy in place. And 55 percent said they handle customer service on a case-by-case basis.
Without a strategy for how you’ll handle customer service, your business is going to fall short. Here are some other stunning stats from the survey: 61 percent of women entrepreneurs surveyed don’t use social media for customer service. In fact, 25 percent don’t even have a website! Today, when the first place most customers go to search for a business is online, this approach can be business suicide.
With this type of online inactivity, it’s not surprising that just 28 percent of women send an email newsletter to their customers and only 19 percent have a blog.
But it’s not just online where women entrepreneurs are falling short. Forty-nine percent don’t keep track of customers’ purchasing activity; 77 percent have never offered a rewards program. These simple tactics can help you boost your sales by marketing more to your existing customers—your biggest potential cash cow.
Customer service is the key factor that can set a small business apart. If yours isn’t up to snuff, you’re going to fall behind. Need help? SCORE has lots of resources online, including articles and online workshops that can get your marketing efforts, social media and website up to speed. You can even search for a counselor with customer service expertise to give you personal mentoring.