Bike Shop Management

How to Level Up Your Customer Service

Customer Service Fosters Customer Loyalty

Customer service is the process of exceeding customers’ expectations as you satisfy their needs and wants. It is not limited to the way you answer the phone or the leniency of your return policy. Customer service is all encompassing, it’s every transaction, every interaction – it’s your whole business. Everything is impacted by your customer service. It’s the root of customer loyalty. 

Like no other industry, loyal customers are the lifeblood of your bike shop. Follow some tips below to think about your own processes and potentially try some new ones.

It’s All About the Online Reviews These Days

It can be hard to accept the technology-driven changes affecting today’s marketplace, especially as a small business owner. But the reality is – the times have changed and you have to adapt to survive. It is sink or swim, digitally.

More than ever, customers and potential customers have access to instant reviews. They can browse Yelp or Angie’s List or Google Reviews to see your business summarized by the number of shaded stars out of five. So now, in addition to all else, you’re worried about five little stars that can make or break you. 

But these five stars are not outside of your control. In fact, as a small business it’s easier to control these reviews than a giant retailer. Why? Because you are small and nimble. You can fine-tune your customer service, react quickly to changes, and implement customer-centered policies with ease. It takes months and years for big companies to roll-out new software systems and policy changes. You can re-train employees and print new signage in a matter of hours.

And above all else, you can ensure your customer service is top notch. Positive reviews are essential and good customer service will make sure you get them.

Word of Mouth Matters – For Better or Worse!

Of course you’d prefer to have only positive reviews online, but that’s not reality. Dissatisfied customers are more likely to spread the word than others. In fact, dissatisfied customers tell between nine to 15 people about their experience (and 13% tell more than 20!) while happy customers tell only four to six people. [White House Office of Consumer Affairs,]

Make your Return Policy Simple and Easy!

You cannot be REI or L.L. Bean, who until recently had a lifetime return policy. You probably can’t be Zappos either, offering free expedited shipping and a 365 day return policy.

But you can be understanding and generous as you seek to make your customers happy. Your customers will evaluate your business based on the ease and generosity of your return policy. They will then determine their loyalty.

Ensuring your return process is easy, clear, and fast is a simple way to earn a repeat customer

Refund Payment - How do You offer Refunds?

I recently returned something at Bed Bath & Beyond and in return received $3.74 in store credit. To someone who lives hours from a Bed Bath & Beyond, this is now worthless to me. 

If you just offer store credit, think twice. Think about offering cash refunds in addition to refunds to the original payment method, especially under a certain dollar amount. If the transactions are higher value, a refund to the original payment method is fine.

Making Your Policy Clear

Whatever you decide on return policy, make it clear for your customers. Post it at the checkout. Post it on your website. Print it on the receipts. And if it changes, make sure to update all customers. But proceed cautiously with changes – you don’t want them to feel like it changes as frequently as the weather.

Remember to keep the customer happy!

Have a clear policy. But allow for exceptions. Customers love feeling like they are heard and valued. If you screwed up or if there is a special case, consider offering a gift card or discount on a future purchase.

Losing money on returns

Remember: You May Lose Money on Returns, but finding a new customers is much more expensive.

Reports show that new customer acquisition costs at least five times as much as dealing with problematic customer returns. So give in and fix the problem rather than chasing away a customer due to a disagreement.

Your Employees are Your Front Line: Keep them Happy & Train them Well

Your employees must be adequately trained and knowledgeable about the product or service you provide. Hire employees with the right personality for the job you are looking to fill. 

Happy employees provide better customer service. So keep your employees happy and you will see the reward played out in their interactions with customers. 68% of customers defect because they felt poorly treated, according to TARP. 

Consider a Customer Loyalty Program with Rewards

Small businesses thrive on promoting and rewarding their customer base. Though customers sometimes dislike giving out their email address and personal information, it is worth asking them. Your loyal customers will appreciate the ability to rack up points or dollars to spend later.

The list of available rewards programs is endless, or you could do something more old-fashioned like a punch card (though we highly recommend keeping email addresses for ease of contact). For members of The Bike Cooperative, Ride Club is also available as an exclusive, feature-rich option that lets you operate 1 or 100 individual loyalty programs (example: providing a rewards tier for members of a club or team).

Here are some factors to consider when implementing a loyalty program:

Consider your goal

Do you want to drive higher ticket sales? Increase the average item per transaction? Use this goal to craft the program details.

Determine the reward type

Will customers receive dollars back on purchases? What is the threshold?

Make rewards information visible

If possible, allow customers to check rewards balance online. If you have an online shop, allowing them to use rewards online is huge.

Keep data accurate

Loyalty programs introduce opportunity for mistakes. With syncing systems and user error, a loyalty system will complicate things. Test and troubleshoot all changes to ensure customer data stays accurate. Having inaccurate and unreliable customer reward information is worse than not having a loyalty program at all.

Use reward data for insights:

The point of a loyalty program is to drive sales and capture customer analytics. Look at reports to see the impact of customer loyalty programs on sales and customer retention.

Have you tried Ride Club? 

The Bike Cooperative’s exclusive loyalty program makes implementing a loyalty program more rewarding for your bike shop and your customers
Learn About Ride Club

Use Customer Complains to Improve Your Small Business

When a customer makes a complaint it should help you pinpoint a problem area in your small business. A complaint creates an opportunity for you to examine what went wrong and how to fix it. Remember this when the complaints feel insurmountable.

Stay Relevant & Reactive

Today’s world makes sharing customer reviews extremely easy. With the tap of a few keys and the click of a button, a customer’s nasty review can be live and damaging as potential customers see it in real time. So eliminate the issues that lead to negative reviews. Boost your customer service through thoughtful hiring, top-notch customer care, loyalty programs that work for your customers, openness to criticism, and an environment that accepts feedback. 

And never stop learning…

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