ATLANTA, June 27, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cbeyond Inc. (Nasdaq:CBEY), the technology ally to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), today offered its top five tips to help businesses better serve customers and build brand advocates.
The guidelines, part of Cbeyond's "Technology Ally" best practices series, are designed to help SMBs understand and leverage the critical role satisfied customers can play in promoting and growing their business.
To create fans for your business, Cbeyond recommends the following five best practices:
- Listen to Your Customers. The first step in serving customers is to start listening. Create channels that make it easy for customers to provide feedback. Develop a formal customer feedback process that lets you hear firsthand what it is like to do business with your company. And don't just ask one time. Be sure that your feedback processes include multiple touch points. A customer's experience may be very different at installation compared to when they are using your services and receiving a bill so be sure to keep a pulse on that relationship. There is no better market research than your customer's own words.
- Act on Feedback. Listening without taking action undermines business success so make course corrections where necessary. Respond to feedback — both positive and negative — and use your customer's input to improve business operations. Monitor and quickly fix trending issues across your customer base. For example, if multiple customers express confusion regarding a particular product installation, set up a demo account and test the process yourself. You may find that you will need to assign employees to assist with the initial set-up process. Responding quickly will impress your customers and will probably help you find new opportunities for efficiency and productivity as well.
- Personalize Your Approach. Businesses typically encounter a different set of problems that need to be solved over time. As a result, they tend to do business with those firms that take the time to learn their pain points and repeatedly offer solutions that meet their specific needs. As in any relationship customers want to feel valued, so find ways to make them feel important and personalize their experience with your organization. Refer to them by first name, pay attention to their buying habits and take the extra step to show you value the relationship.
- Build Service into your Business Culture. It is common knowledge that the cost of acquiring a new customer is greater than the cost of retaining a current one. Make customer relationship management an essential part of your business culture to improve your relationships and your bottom line. Be sure to ingrain the importance of customer service throughout all levels of your organization. Sharing customer feedback with all employees involved with a particular account and making that information easily accessible is critical.
- Be Disciplined. Educate your entire organization about expectations for service quality and share ways to best serve customers. Also establish programs for consistently measuring customer satisfaction and any unresolved issues. It all comes down to creating a culture of service. Ensure employees have the tools and expertise to deliver service that gets results; they should feel empowered to raise their hand if they know they are unable to meet the needs of customers.
The most powerful marketing tool is a recommendation. If a business establishes an environment in which employees are focused on delivering what customers want, companies can create a powerful group of brand advocates since happy customers will stay longer, buy more and refer your organization to others.
"At Cbeyond, understanding what our customers are saying about us is a discipline," said Terry Trout, vice president, Service Delivery at Cbeyond. "This practice has greatly contributed to our success since more than a third of our business comes from referrals. The key to serving customers better is to listen, empathize and respond accordingly."
SMBs should also consider leveraging social media in their communications with customers. According to the Summer 2013 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot™, almost half (47 percent) of business leaders surveyed now consider social media critical to their growth (including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+), with social mobile (Foursquare, Scoutmob, Spotify, and Googlemaps.) also considered important (at 22 percent).
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Cbeyond, Inc. (Nasdaq:CBEY), a cloud and communications services provider, is the technology ally for small and mid-sized business. Our private, proactively-managed IP network connects customers to voice, data and enterprise applications hosted in our award-winning cloud data centers. Since 1999, Cbeyond has served the unmet needs of businesses through technology and service innovation. We were the first company to build an all-IP network specifically for small businesses and among the few to offer consultative sales and service professionals onsite. Today, our expanded portfolio helps customers reduce the burden of outlaying capital and manpower to manage infrastructure. Creating an exceptional customer experience is in our DNA. It's why more than a third of our approximately 60,000 customers come from referrals. For more information on Cbeyond, visit www.cbeyond.com and follow Cbeyond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cbeyond.
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