10 Tips for Improving Customer Satisfaction in Your Home-Based Business

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To ensure a successful home-based business, you must execute diligent customer satisfaction principles before, during, and after the service takes place.

What does it take to cultivate loyal clients who are willing to hire you repeatedly? To ensure a successful home-based business, you must execute diligent customer satisfaction principles before, during, and after the service takes place.

Unfortunately, many small businesses take the easy way out, chanting “the customer is first” mantra during the sales process. However, once the sale is made, the client is soon forgotten. This “get the money” attitude alienates customers — tarnishing the home-based market with a poor reputation.

Instead, maneuver your business into the fast lane of customer satisfaction. In fact, you can make a difference starting today! Commit to making customer satisfaction a frame of mind fundamental to all of your business endeavors.

1.  Be Accessible

Can prospects and clients easily find the information they need about your products or services? In the spirit of time management, most businesses use technology to erect barriers to the outside world. However, such obstacles provide time-pressured clients an excuse to contact the competition.

How many hurdles does a client struggle through on your web site or phone service to find useful information? Perform frequent usability testing to simplify accessibility — and reduce client frustration.

Are phone calls and e-mail response times measured in your business? In the spirit of promptness, you should return all inquiries in under two hours. Make doing business with you simple and user-friendly — and your clients will tell others.

2.  Practice Professional Phone Etiquette

First impressions still matter in the electronic age. How many times have you made calls to businesses represented by rude, distracted receptionists and secretaries?

Many companies fail to mention their name when answering the phone. Always answer a call with your business name and a smile. Otherwise, your clients will do business with someone who is audio-friendly. Get an edge over the competition: Learn how to answer the phone professionally.

3.  Meet and Beat Deadlines

Does your business consistently meet deadlines? Even with PDAs, day-timers, and other schedulers, over-commitment is still a major issue.

When confronted with an unrealistic deadline, find out the client’s reason for the short notice. Sometimes, managers add schedule “padding” to compensate for unknowns — like unreliable vendors. If schedule adjustments are non-negotiable, do whatever it takes to meet them. Another option is to add a “fast-turn” fee to compensate for tight deadlines.

Demonstrate that your business is unique. Whenever possible, exceed the deadline by 10-25 percent.

4.  Pursue Integrity

Clients dream of doing business with people of integrity. During this age of mistrust, earning a client’s respect is vital. Any hint of dishonesty and your client will bolt. Are you promoting an unproven product or service?

Perform a periodic “integrity review” of your communications material such as brochures, web sites, and advertisements to ensure proper features/benefits are highlighted. Also, perform a post-mortem of sales activities to ensure satisfactory achievement of all commitments.

Dare to be different: pursue integrity throughout all of your business activities.

5.  Pay Attention to Detail

Sloppy workmanship, incomplete services, and miscommunication with the customer will kill your home-based business. Starting today, diligently record all project communications. Utilize the latest technology such as PDAs to capture client meetings whenever possible. Then, follow up to verify that you understand the client’s requirements.

In addition, poor grammar, stale marketing materials, and sloppy web site design advertise a careless image to your clients. Why should the client trust their business to someone who neglects the basics?

Pay attention to detail by polishing your project execution procedures, service offerings, and communication materials.

6.  Be Flexible

Your service may be the best in town, but a prima donna attitude alienates clients. Be willing to make adjustments to your service offering, project execution, and deliverables.

Whenever possible, provide the client options, and always professionally communicate the cost of adjustments. Customer-oriented flexibility wins you points and forges into the client’s mind that you are looking out for his or her best interest. Always put the customer’s needs ahead of yours.

7.  Be Proactive with Issues

Never allow a known problem to go unresolved. Small issues trigger costly disasters months after project completion, especially in the IT, industrial, and software service industries.

If there is a chance your service might fall short after delivery, alert the customer immediately and take corrective action. Most customers understand that it takes time to flush out bugs from complex processes. However, as long as you take the initiative, the client will always trust in your reliability. Executing a proactive strategy boosts your company’s reputation.

8.  Stay in Touch with Clients

Do you have a regular post-sales follow-up strategy? Growing loyal clients requires an outreach plan for cultivating long-term relationships. There are many ways to achieve customer “touch time.” One cost-effective method is through regular opt-in electronic newsletters (e-zines).

Additionally, be sure to remember clients during holidays, birthdays, and business milestones. A set of tickets to the local ball game or a holiday play will ensure that the client thinks of you when the next project comes around. Maintain a client outreach plan — especially after the sale is made.

9.  Provide Free Add-On Services

Free add-ons improve the value proposition of your home-based business. Use add-ons to clinch deals teetering on the edge. When you quote a project, always sell the value of the complete package.

Whenever possible, provide incremental services that the customer regards as mission critical. Select add-ons that consume only a small amount of your resources — but significantly improve customer satisfaction. Improve the value proposition of your service to solidify long-term client satisfaction.

10.  Always Guarantee Your Service Offering

Unfortunately, many home-based businesses do not guarantee their work. Guarantees demonstrate your commitment to delivering the best possible value. Guarantees also prove that you are confident in your ability to execute to the client’s expectations. Propel your business ahead of the crowd by guaranteeing your services.

After implementing your plan, execute a bottom-up review of customer satisfaction quarterly, regardless of business conditions. If you neglect customer satisfaction today, tomorrow you’ll be forced to win clients back from the competition — on their terms.

The post 10 Tips for Improving Customer Satisfaction in Your Home-Based Business appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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