Starting a new company can be scary. It’s not exactly easy to launch a new product, single-handedly manage everything from operations to IT to accounting, fend off the competition, and grow a customer base — all at the same time. It’s no wonder that half of small businesses fail within the first 5 years.
But what about the other half of small businesses that survive? What’s the magic that helps them succeed? And how can you get that magic for yourself? There’s a variety of factors, but one that each small business can affect is customer service; it turns out that it can make a big difference for small and young companies. Here are five ways it can help you stand out from the competition and and grow your business fast.
According to J.D. Power , 67% of consumers have used a company's social media site for service — and that number is growing. But too often those social media calls for help go unanswered. Don’t fall into that trap! Failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate . If you offer awesome support on every channel that your customers reach out on, you can build strong, long-lasting relationships with customers.
Remember back in the 1990s when you had to call a company between 9-5 Eastern Standard Time to get help? Those days are long gone. Today’s customers want to find their own answers, on their own timeline. In fact, analyst firm Gartner  predicts that by 2017, two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer require the support of a human intermediary. Good news! Not only is giving your customer self-service important, it’s also a cost-effective way for small businesses to offer 24/7 support.
What customers think of as an acceptable response time is changing, fast. Today’s customers are willing to wait for ten minutes on the phone, but 60% believe that the wait should be five minutes or less . You might think a small business can’t compete on speed against a big company, with a fully-staffed call center. Wrong! If you have a mobile customer service solution, you can help customers from anywhere, at any time from your smartphone.
Even the most successful companies sometimes spend a lot of time and money building products that ultimately customers don’t want. Remember Pepsi A.M.? Heinz E-Z Squirt purple ketchup? Microsoft Zune? Your customer service team is on the front lines, interacting with customers and can be one of your best sources of feedback, and a key driver of product innovation. Make sure that to collect feedback and share it with your product team so they can make sure they are building the products that customers really want.

When you connect all the apps you use to run your business, you can be more productive in every way. When you share customer information, product insights, and support metrics across the company, it’s easy for employees to collaborate and work together to meet customer needs. It’s easy to integrate your systems in the cloud so you can deliver an outstanding customer experience every time.

Don’t be on the wrong side of the numbers, half of businesses do not survive in the first 1-5 years. One of the secret weapons in becoming one of those successful small businesses is to ensure you’re maximizing your customer service efforts.

Having a great product will definitely help you move on from year one, but don’t underestimate the power of really great customer service. Utilize the tips given above to continue to expand your customer base and take your small business to the year two and beyond.

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