customer service.


18th October, 2023

Putting customers first: the ultimate business imperative 

Customer service can make or break any business, big or small.

As a customer, you’ve probably experienced the good and the bad, so you know how a poor experience can leave a sour taste.

However, for small business owners, customer service is only one of many (many!) tasks on a never-ending to-do list alongside other ‘bigger fish’ like sales and marketing.

But here’s the thing about customer service: get it right and your most loyal customers will pick up some of that hard work for you.  

Customer service

The challenges of customer service — and how to turn them into opportunities

When you dive into the data, it quickly becomes clear how important customer service is to business success.

A whopping  91% of unhappy customers will not buy again from a company they’ve had a bad experience with.

On the other hand, 86% of consumers say a good customer experience can turn them from one-time buyers to loyal customers.  

As a small business owner, you’re constantly juggling multiple hats.

You’re also working with limited staff and tight budgets, so you’ve got to be smart about where you spend your time and money.

There’s a lot of focus on getting customers, but if your ‘customer bucket’ is leaky, all that hard work becomes redundant.  

The good news is there are ways to provide great customer service – without spending more money: 

Listen and learn 

Listen to your customers — take the time to understand what they need and use that information to improve your products and services.  

Keep it personal  

Small businesses are generally more agile and better at providing more personal and customised service.

It’s the little things, like remembering a customer’s name or going the extra mile to solve a problem.  

Use technology to your advantage 

Once upon a time, many types of software and systems were only available to larger companies.

These days, some providers design solutions specifically for small businesses, like our business management platform.  

Empower your employees 

Even if your team is small, it can still be mighty, so long as you give employees the necessary information to confidently deliver great customer service.

Consider frequently asked questions about specific products and services, and training on how to handle frustrated customers.   

Be accessible 

Your customers should be able to contact you on their preferred channels and get a timely response.

Ensure your contact information is up-to-date and easily searchable, and use automation to respond to customers when they reach out.  

Customer loyalty and service

The benefits (and pitfalls) of customer service 

There are three main reasons why customer service is so important for small businesses: 

Better customer loyalty 

Happy customers don’t tend to take their business elsewhere.

89% of consumers  say they’re more likely to return and make another purchase after a positive customer experience. And while it takes time to build trust, you can lose it instantly.  

Loyal customers help you grow your business in several ways: 

Word of mouth matters (more than you think) 

Your customer service becomes a catalyst for creating happy clients who are willing to recommend your company.

These referrals will help your business grow, even when your team is at capacity and your marketing budget is tight.  

Increased customer lifetime value (CLV) 

Loyal customers spend more, and more often.

Every positive experience increases the chance of repeat purchases and extends the length of your relationship, meaning their customer lifetime value is significantly higher.

If you can increase your average CLV, this boosts your bottom line but also means you spend less on marketing.  

Improved product, service and market positioning 

Customer service opens the most direct line of communication between your customers and your business — and these conversations can be invaluable sources of information.

Learning how people use your products or how you could improve your service can help inform decision-making, like brand positioning, marketing messages and customer segments.  

But beware — one wrong move can cost you  

Poor customer experience can cause serious damage to your business reputation with dire flow-on effects including loss of customers and profit.

It’s also hard to claw back customer trust and satisfaction — it takes about 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage from one negative review. 

Customer service reviews.

Customer service inspiration — brands doing great things 

  • In 2022, the wealth development platform Sharesies NZ ranked #1 in Kantar NZ’s Customer Leadership Index, primarily for its ‘consistency of service.’ 
  • The Australian Business Awards assesses the customer service delivery of small Australian businesses from 25 different industries. View the 2023 results.   

SME customer service — there’s always room for improvement 

As a small business, you don’t need to compromise on providing great customer service.

However, don’t look at it as a box you can tick ‘complete’ — there’s always room for improvement.

As you would reflect on what is and isn’t working in other areas of your business, do the same with your customer service practices regularly and find new ways to personalise your customer experience.  

We’re proud to share that MYOB has been awarded Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers — Small Business Accounting Software 2023 award. A big thanks to all our customers for your continued loyalty and support. Read more about the award here.