6 small business tips for tracking customer service issues on the cheap

Apr 24, 2012 | 14 comments

Great customer service will get you loyal fans and  bump up your profits.

Also, the sky is blue, water is wet and Elvis is the King.

Ask a satisfied customer why she likes your service and one of the things she will probably say is- “They solve problems quickly”.

Quick turnaround times with customer issues is critical to your customer service reputation. But don’t assume that you need money to deliver prompt service.

You can run a lean and mean customer service machine on a shoestring budget that can be the envy of any Fortune 500 company.

In fact, if you are a small business, odds are in your favor of delivering higher levels of customer satisfaction. You have the advantages of being nimble, responsive and you are not staggered by red tape, turf wars and inter-departmental politics.

Besides, you’ve got numbers behind you. 81% of Americans think small businesses are better at customer service than big businesses. Hooray!

Here are a few strategies that can help you deal quickly with customer issues.  They are low to no cost in terms of tools, but need investment in training and time if you want the full benefits.

1. Use social media monitoring tools

Social media can be one of the best ways to track and solve customer problems.

Encourage customers to reach out to you on platforms like Twitter and Facebook and enable your customer care agents to respond to them rapidly.

There are also a number of monitoring tools, both free social media tools and software from paid vendors, that can help you listen in to the conversation on social media and take rapid action.

2. Leverage Google Alerts

It’s not new and shiny like social media, but Google Alerts  is a heavy hitter when it comes to keeping an eye out on what people are saying online about your brand .

You can create a series of alerts with appropriate keywords and set it up so that you get updates either by email or RSS.

And as with most Google products, it’s free.

3. Keep an eye on chatters in forums

People talk about their experiences in forums all the time. While Google Alerts might be able to catch some of this chatter, some will fly below the radar.

You would be doing yourself a tremendous favor if you get busy in these forums where your customers are likely to hang out. Use forum search engines like boardreader to help in your search.

Depending on your service and your market, you could opt to cut out the middlemen and host your own support forum.

4. Employ live chat and trouble ticket systems

You can turn your website into a help desk by hooking it up easily with live chat support. You could also allow customers to create help desk tickets on their own by installing a trouble ticket system.

Use customer support software that comes with robust analytics and issue tracking features and which can be integrated with other customer support software that you use. Also, be sure to employ best practices to get the most out of these services.

5. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to use a CRM solution to keep you top of mind with your customers.

Depending on your size and scale, you can get similar benefits from small business oriented CRM packages like SugarCRM or ZohoCRM.

And if you want to stay with a big name, vendors like Salesforce have versions for small businesses too.

6. Use feedback apps for brick and mortar businesses

While you have a lot of options for getting customer feedback online, do not neglect  to obtain on the spot feedback from customers when they are in your brick and mortar store.

One of the rapidly deployed technologies in several niches are quick response (QR) codes. Small businesses are teaming up with vendors like QRstuff.com that insert quick response codes on merchandise.

Scanning a QR code can take your customers to a mobile friendly form while they are still in your store. They can leave appropriate feedback that can be analyzed in real time and any issues found can be fixed rapidly.


How do you track and solve customer issues rapidly with a small budget? The comment section is open.


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