Tag Archives: customer care

Business Start-Up Myths – Having more customers is better


Yet another business start-up myth relates to customers. Many people think that having more customers is better. There are of course many elements to this myth, as well as many falsehoods and some truths.

Dealing with demand

Obviously having more customers could be better. As more customers mean more money getting spent with your business and therefore more profit. But can your business cope with the demand that goes with a large customer base? Failing to meet demand levels may push customers away to your competitors. It may also mean that there are delays in completing services or shipping products leading to a number of dissatisfied customers and a bad reputation. More than a few businesses have perished this way.

With lots of customers a rise in demand is obviously a big factor. Businesses subject to an unexpected rise in demand levels may well find they have more orders than they can cope with. There may also be a delay in payment. Late payment is a problem experienced by many businesses and in this situation it can often be a serious problem. The late payment customers will leave the business struggling to finance the production of further goods and services to sell to the other customers, which could be very damaging to the business. One way to deal with this problem is through factoring. Take a look at our previous article for more information.

Keeping them coming back

Having plenty of customers is great, but what are you doing to make sure they keep coming back? High-levels of new customers is excellent for turnover, but if they aren’t satisfied with your service and go elsewhere after their first purchase then you’re losing potential future business.

Happy customers are the best sort of customers. If you keep them happy then they’ll keep coming back for more. Return customers will keep your business stable and allow it to grow. With a happy customer base, good word about your business will soon spread and your market will grow. Customer care is of paramount important to a new and growing business.

Knowing who your customers are

Having more customers may also mean an unexpected increase in business. You might suddenly be catering to different people, with different needs to those you expected. As the company grows, it may become clear that your market has changed without you realising. It is important to carry out market research regularly to ensure you know who your customers are (and who they could be), so you know what their needs are and how to provide for them. Failing to recognise your customers and their needs may mean you are not properly fulfilling their needs and thus not providing the best service.

Your business might start out providing high-quality goods at a price to match, but as the business grows you might find a large slice of your market (or potential market) would prefer a similar product for a lesser price. Noticing this could make a big difference to your business. This is just one example of course. There might be external factors which affect your business.

The changing market

As a business grows it may well need to adapt to changes in the market. Technology is having a big effect on modern business. As more and more people use mobile phones and computers for their daily news, the print industry is suffering. Newspapers and magazines are picking up on this, adapting to change and moving into the online world. Similarly, with the continued growth of the “iPod generation” and portable mp3 players, more companies are adopting the digital format for music, films and television shows over the standard format. HMV have just launched a digital store to cope with the changes to demand in the music market. Film rental services like Netflix and Lovefilm are now offering streaming services to cope with changes in demand.

Changes like this are essential to keep a business alive as the world changes around it. These things are well worth bearing in mind when carrying out a company formation or starting a new business.

Business Case Studies and Testimonials

Business-Case-StudiesRecently I discussed the importance of customer feedback and customer care. Such things are essential elements of good business. A growing business can only be successful if it is aware of its customers’ needs and desires. Gathering feedback and putting it to good use can be a good way of achieving this. Another method is through case studies and testimonials.

In today’s internet age, you’ll quite often see testimonials and/or case studies on a company’s website. Usually with thoughtful praise on various elements of the businesses products or services. It’s becoming far more common lately and if you’re successful in improving your customer care then you might well find more and more customers willing to share their positive thoughts, without reward-based coaxing.

Testimonials are generally the easy option as they are a wonderfully short sample of happy customers. Easy for other potential customers to see and be influenced by and can make a difference to a buying decision. You often see testimonials in different forms. Quick quotes are often used on advertising for newly released films with a sample of positive reviews by film critics. These could be seen as a variety of testimonial and they may hold more weight than a standard positive comment from the man on the street, but they are just one sort.

Business Case Studies

Case studies can be a more rewarding method of gathering feedback from customers, for all concerned. Quite often they are more relevant in a business to business (B2B) environment, but there may be circumstances where they can be used for a common business. The premise is simple enough, though it might initially require a little more encouragement. A business simply asks its customers to give them a description of how their products or services helped them, providing for a need or fulfilling a want.

In a business to business environment (such as suppliers, company formation agents, accountants or freighting companies) this is quite simply asking a customer to provide a description of how the selling businesses services/products helped to improve the clients own business. Hopefully, the case study will reveal positive elements of the business transaction, though it may also reveal negative aspects. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the comments can be put to use mending errors or improving the service. It might also be the case that the case study highlights an unfulfilled need that the business did not know existed, which means they can then strive to expand their services and attempt to fill this need, perhaps increasing sales and profit in the process.

Case studies also offer rewards in both directions, which naturally makes them easier to accrue. If the chosen case studies are used on the company website or blog, more often than not, the studied business is not only mentioned by name, but perhaps has a link to their website and their contact details as well. Boosting both website traffic and the businesses profile. This is clearly a selling point which might encourage customers to spend time writing a case study of their experiences. Simple, yet effective marketing and customer service for both parties.

The Company Warehouse – Seeking Case Studies

We are currently seeking case studies of new businesses to use on our blog. Not just from our clients, but from anyone willing to tell a story of their successful business start up. If you have the time, why not drop us an e-mailmarketing@thecompanywarehouse.co.uk and get some coverage for your business? (Please include “Blog case study” in the subject line.)

The Importance of Customer Feedback And Customer Care

A recent survey carried out by the Forum of Private Business shows that around 44% of business owners want to improve customer satisfaction and yet more still want to be able to do more business with their current customers.

Clearly in order to do this, business owners need to find out what their customers (and potential customers) want and how satisfied they are (or aren’t) with the current products and services being provided.

How To Acquire Customer Feedback

Customer care is paramount, yet the methods of acquiring feedback might be lost on most businesses and the correct method will also vary according to industry sector and client base. There are many different options open to businesses.

  • E-mail – business owners or customer care departments may send electronic feedback questionnaires to current customers. These may be appropriate for IT literate consumers, but not necessarily everyone in the client base.
  • Online questionnaires – if the business has a website, it may well have a feedback section to allow customers and visitors to leave comments. Information gathered could be sent to the customer care department or business owner via an automated system.
  • Comment boxes – brick and mortar businesses may choose to have a customer comments box for people visiting the premises to leave thoughts and opinions on a slip of paper. This is nice and simple, but might mean more work collating the data/information.
  • Paper based feedback forms – sent out via snail mail, rather than electronically these forms cater to the less IT literate customers.
  • Online comment systems – comment systems on a blog or website allow visitors to leave feedback.

Dealing With Customer Feedback

Many new business owners and directors of limited companies are scared of feedback. The reasoning is quite simple. People don’t generally go out of their way to give positive comments, but are more than happy to write a complaint, grumble or negative thought when they feel they have been wronged. Of course the truth of the matter is both sorts of feedback are useful in one way or another.

Further still, negative feedback may well be more useful than positive comments. Unfortunately because of the nature of human beings the number of negative comments is far likely to outweigh the number of positive, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is it a sign that you’re business doing a terrible job. It just shows there is room for improvement.

Most modern companies have a blog (much like this one) where customers and visitors can leave comments. There is a fear that negative comments will be left (or spam) but most blog systems are programmed with the ability to monitor comments and require approval before posting. If a help (yet negative) comment is posted a business owner may choose to approve the comment and reply to it, trying to be helpful and show interest or delete it yet deal with the problem internally. Doing nothing isn’t the best option, but what is best will depend on the circumstances.

A good business will take the negative comments on board and adapt the way it operates in order to please those few people who are unhappy and hopefully improve the overall quality of customer care within the business. Of course drastic changes may not be the best course of action as you may end up displeasing the customers who are happy, which is why actively seeking customer feedback is a good plan.

Mud Sticks

Unfortunately people remember the bad things that they have heard about a business and tend to forget the good. With the ever expanding nature of the internet, this now means that if you don’t tread carefully and effectively deal with customer care, you may well find your business subject to a series of negative comments on the World Wide Web in places which you cannot control.

Previously when a customer said “I’m going to tell all my friends how rubbish your business is!” it might not have mattered, but now their comments can reach a wider audience as they’re posted on Facebook or tweeted and re-tweeted to thousands of followers on Twitter. Worse still, they’re permanent.

It’s therefore important to catch the mud before it’s thrown. You can’t please everyone, but you can at least show that you’re trying.

Actively Seeking Customer Feedback

customer-feedback2Rather than sitting around waiting for people to complain, why not go to them? Send out a questionnaire to all your customers and see how they feel about your service. You might notice a theme to problems customers have experienced or areas they think can be improved that you can work on. You may also find that you can improve your services to cater to a wider audience.

Actively seeking customer feedback shows that you care. People will generally have a higher opinion of a business that shows it cares about its customers than one that just seems to want their money.

Writing a list of questions might be a suitable way of gathering feedback and comments, however this might be too specific and you should be careful in writing closed questions. Give customers a chance to tell you how they feel in their own words, with a little suggestion they might open up and provide you with some business gems.

An incentive might be required to encourage greater responses. Perhaps a special discount, some vouchers or entry in a prize draw will get more people sending in their thoughts. Getting as much information as possible, you will be able to improve your business and hopefully increase the number of positive comments made without any extra encouragement.

Customer Care

Customer CareIn business, customer care is paramount. Happy customers will become loyal customers who return for more and will spread the good word about your business to their friends and family. Customer Care is not just about having a good customer care team, but includes many other elements. Start with a high quality product or service, which is a good value for money, provided quickly and efficiently by friendly and courteous members of staff, where necessary including a good after-sales service and you already have an excellent grounding for caring effectively for your customers.

Policies and Values

Its important to have customer care policies set-up so staff and employees know the core values and principals, ensuring that customers get the best possible service from your company. Part of this will involve training employees so that they interact with customers in the best possible way, professionally and politely and thus present the best image for the company. It’s important to have certain principals in place in order to provide the best service:

  • Publish clear and help information on the services you offer
  • Respond to any complaints quickly and politely.
  • Make realistic promises
  • Seek and encourage customer feedback
  • Provide a safe and secure environment

Educating staff in certain concepts will help the business no end. Train them to do with customers. Always remaining positive, never giving negative replies or telling customers that they cannot help them (but instead offering to find the answer to their queries).

Being Clear and Concise

It’s important to be clear and concise about the services that you offer to avoid confusion. The reasons are two fold. Firstly, if potential customers know what they are getting they will be more likely to buy a service from you and hopefully become one of your loyal customers. Secondly, things like misleading adverts, badly written web-pages or unclear marketing campaigns might well cause you to be subject to legal action if someone reports you to the Advertising Standards Agency. The Codes on what should and shouldn’t be included can be found on their website.


It is important to regularly contact customers and see what they think of the service and how it can be improved. Ensure a customer service team is in place to deal with complaints and queries. One of the best and most simple methods for encouraging this is by the use of NGN’s. Non-Geographical Numbers (or NGN for short) are telephone numbers that are not linked to a location. These are broken down into various types but the most common are 0800 numbers and 0845 numbers, with which we are all familiar. These numbers are important for various reasons, the most obvious of which is the fact that they give a “national” image to even the smallest company. Generally members of the public are under the impression that national companies are more interested in customer care and have more money devoted to it, so in this area, image is everything, yet it is only half the story. NGN’s can be set-up to divert to your standard telephone number or even a mobile number and thus you can keep your standard, local number private where necessary.

Website Design and Customer Contact Page

In the same vein, every modern company needs a web presence. A well designed website can help your business no end. Once again giving the impression of a professional national company it will also allow customers to easily get your details if they need to contact you. A good website also incorporates a contact page with email forwarding facilities, this allows customers to fill out a web form and send you an email automatically without having to open their own email client and risk mistyping your email address. This has the added benefit that you can specify subjects and headings under which the customer is contacting you (e.g. question about deliver or a question on how to return a faulty product) as well as specific other details like the customers phone number and home address (where relevant). For online based companies a contact page is especially important. More and more companies have an online chat system so customers can communicate quickly with members of the customer care team without having to use a phone or wait for a reply to an email. This is preferable to replying to emails within 24 hours, although, even a speedy reply such as that is key.

To make the customers life easy it is also a good idea to have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your website. Work out what the most commonly asked questions are that your customers might ask and compile them into an easy to search page. This will allow customers to help themselves as much as possible and saves any delay in response to their queries.

Giving customers the chance to voice their opinion is an important measure. Setting up a customer satisfaction survey or questionnaire can be helpful in finding weaknesses in your company and improving them where possible.

Key Performance Indicators

It’s a good idea to have systems in place to identify how satisfied your customers are. Tracking things like customer complaint levels, product return rates (or refund requests), returning customer orders or levels of marketing material sent out versus revenue generated because of them can help show how well your company is performing in the customer care arena.

Loyalty Schemes

Providing your loyal customers with rewards is a good way to strengthen relationships and encourage new ones. Keeping your customers coming back is cheaper and easier than seeking new business so using loyalty discount schemes, recommend-a-friend schemes or other related marketing strategies will only help to improve your business and elevate customer satisfaction. You will have to look at your market and the service/products you offer and consider the best possible options for you.


If you have a work place or place of business where members of the public will pass, security is an important part of customer service. CCTV monitoring will hopefully prevent and deter theft while at the same time providing an air of confidence to both customers, staff and partners that might be visiting the premises.

Other Customers?

Take care not to be closed-minded when it comes to your customer base. Remember that partners might well be customers too. Depending on your business type, distributors, advertising agencies, suppliers and many others whom you interact with in order to carry out your business will need to be treated with the same level of customer care. Upsetting a supplier or distributor could damage your sales and your business. Even colleagues within your business might well be seen as customers in certain circumstances, especially in larger companies where various teams interact to provide the end result.

Hints and Tips For Customer Care Staff

  • Dealing with difficult customers – If dealing with abusive or rude customers, keep your cool and if you find you cannot, try involving another member of staff in the situation.
  • Telephone calls – Answer telephone calls quickly, being polite and courteous.
  • Letters of complaint – When replying to a letter of complaint keep it short and to the point, but be polite and personal, don’t send out standard template letters.
  • Positive Response – Always give positive responses. Even if you don’t know personally or cannot help, direct the customer to the right department or let them know that you will find out for them.

The Points To Remember

It is important to remember that customer complaints are only one end of the spectrum. Provide the best service you can and you will minimise the levels of complaints that will come in. Remember that people who complain will be the minority, but they might well be voicing the thoughts of the masses in general. Take complaints seriously and use them as an opportunity to improve your business. Remember in setting up your business that The Company Warehouse is here to help you on the path to success. Order a non-geographic number to help give your company a “national” and professional feel, even when you are just starting out. Potential customers will be far more likely to ring a freephone number both to place orders or to complain. Both sorts of phone call are valuable to your business. We can provide you with a domain name and a well designed website with a contact page. These pages include a contact form to allow customers to send you an automated e-mail with easy and speed. Be sure to answer these quickly to meet your customers need and grow a loyal customer base. Well designed Logo’s, letterheads and other corporate identity items will help give your company a professional feel and appeal to customers. All these elements are part of caring for customers.