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Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

In order to capitalize, small businesses and startups looking to grow must build a culture that cares about the customer.

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Entrepreneur, Multiple businesses, Nigeria partners UAE to boost SMEs , US technology company deploys software to ease business process in Nigeria, Experts outline what SMEs must do to attract funding, investors in 2020 , Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business, What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak , What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak, FG rolls out N2.3 trillion survival funds for MSMEs; see criteria 

The question is simple: “Are you taking time to make sure the customer is at the heart of your brand experience?’’

Customer experience has to be a part of your company’s DNA. Great customer experiences are what set companies apart in crowded marketplaces because they create passionate and vocal customers. This competitive advantage is hard for another business to break down because they have to battle that existing business-to-customer relationship first.

Whether via service interactions, product quality, or overall brand, experience has become the deciding factor that determines whether or not a customer will do business with a company. In order to capitalize, small businesses and startups looking to grow must build a culture that cares about the customer. And to really succeed, there can be no fake-it-till-you-make-it.

Here’s why your business needs a solid value proposition (PART 1), Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

Here are a few ways small businesses can realize tremendous success by putting customer success at the heart of their companies.

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Care about your employees

If you want to build your brand through satisfied customers, you need to start by ensuring satisfied employees. When employees are happy and actualized, it compounds their desire to help others. Besides, a “culture of caring” has no limits: You cannot legitimately care about customers if you don’t care about the people serving them.

(READ MORE: Millennials changing the definition of work; doing the most with freelancing)

Develop a rapport with all of your customers

When you’re running a small business, it’s easy for your team to get to know its customers. Your customer demand is small and support agents can spend plenty of time diving into service inquiries. As you scale, however, that extra time will shorten. When your customer base grows, your agents will need to focus on efficiency as much as they focus on customer satisfaction.

Before this happens, be sure to take advantage of early opportunities to bond with customers. Your first users are probably your biggest fans and they’ll likely become customer advocates if you build a rapport with them.

Hire employees who are great communicators

Small businesses tend to have small service teams of about three to five people. And, in many cases, customer service isn’t the rep’s only job. For many small businesses, employees find themselves wearing different hats and performing a variety of tasks, including service and support. This structure can work, but it depends heavily on your employees’ skills.

You need to be sure you’re hiring people who are stellar communicators and great at working with people. They need to be able to understand customer needs and flexible enough to adapt to sudden change. Good customer service is an effective way to grow a customer base, but you need excellent support reps for it to work.

Focus on customer retention strategies

If you’ve just started running a small business, you may want to write this stat down. It can cost up to 25x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. This means improving customer retention is your key to increasing profits. You can develop a customer retention strategy that delights customers and encourages them to return to your business.

One commonly used method is a customer loyalty program that rewards people every time they buy from you. This incentivizes them to return to your business and avoid your competitors.

Define customer service vs. customer success

While these two things are related, they’re definitely not the same. Customer service is a support functionality, designed to answer questions and help customers through specific issues. Customer success, on the other hand, is a proactive movement designed to solve overarching challenges and build long-term success. Customer Success might seem like a nice-to-have for small businesses, but both functions are vital to a customer’s hierarchy of needs.

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Let customer service shape your sales and marketing efforts

No small business can afford to take customer relationships for granted, and the best way to avoid that is to build them right into your sales and marketing strategies. Consistently excellent customer service gives you a unique selling proposition, repeat business, and most importantly, trust.  You have a 60-70% chance of getting business from your existing customers compared to only a 5-20% chance of selling to new prospects. Customers have no idea how many channels a brand offers, and really don’t care. They just want to communicate on the one that’s most convenient for them.

Take advantage of social media for customer service 

Social media is one of the rising stars of customer service mediums. Customers love using it for support because they can instantly report problems and automatically receive notifications on updates. Additionally, popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer in-app customer service tools, including live chat and AI. These automation features streamline the support process and improve the customer experience.

Should you run multiple businesses as an entrepreneur? Part 2, Godwin Obaseki,, Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

(READ ALSO: Financial decisions you must take now)

Collect customer feedback after each interaction 

Customer feedback is incredibly valuable when a service team is first starting out. Negative feedback shows what customers are trying to do and the roadblock that’s preventing them from reaching their goals. Positive feedback reveals your customers’ values and the aspects of your business they admire most. Analyzing this feedback can help you make important business decisions that extend beyond customer service. Marketing teams use this information to create effective campaigns that attract your target audience’s attention. Sales teams will identify timely opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, optimizing your odds for a repeat purchase. And, finally, product development can use this data to fine-tune products and address common customer roadblocks.

Always be asking

Customer engagement is an uphill battle. So when a customer comes to you for help, that’s an opportunity—they’re already listening, so now’s your chance to talk to them. At that moment, you have more of your customers’ attention. You can use that opportunity to not only provide great customer service or support experience but to make progress on other goals.

In summary, customer service is a team-wide effort. Don’t view it as a chore—view it as an opportunity to learn more about your own product.

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Business

BREAKING: Fire guts fuel tanker, vehicles at Anthony, Lagos

The tanker conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways.

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NNPC reacts to Lagos pipeline explosion

There is a fire outbreak, which has gutted a fuel tanker, at Anthony inward Gbagada, Lagos State.

This was disclosed by the Federal Fire Service via its Twitter handle on Friday evening. The incident, which occurred around 10 pm, has razed at least two vehicles.

The agency urged road users to avoid the area and take alternative routes.

Also, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Agency, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed the incident.

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He said, “The Agency responded to distress calls and upon arrival at the scene of incident, it was discovered that a tanker with unknown registration number conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways.

“This led to an explosion in which two unidentified vehicles were burnt.”

A joint team of responders led by the Federal Fire Service, LASEMA, LASG fire service, LRU fire unit, Nigeria Police and LASTMA are working together to curb the inferno from escalating further.

Details soon …

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Business

Nigeria among countries to be worst hit by food crisis globally

Nigeria, others were listed as countries with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.

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7 million Nigerians to experience food shortage

Nigeria has emerged as one of the countries to be most hit by food crisis across the globe in the face of the coronavirus pandemic which had worsened the already bad situation.

This disclosure is contained in a report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The report from the FAO also shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo is emerging as the country with the world’s largest food crisis in terms of absolute numbers, with Burkina Faso listed as the country with the worst deteriorations in acute hunger in recent months.

The food crisis is made worse in Nigeria by the longstanding religious and ethnic conflicts and even organized crimes by some bandits, which has greatly affected farmers working on their farmlands.

In addition to these, the farmers were already contending with the issue of flooding or drought, which has negatively been impacting on the agricultural sector in a period the country is desperate and very desirous of economic diversification. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a surge in food prices as can be seen in the reports released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a country that imports over 10% of its food supply.

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With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, which is regarded as the world’s most food-insecure continent. This is made worse as importers of food items struggle to gain access to dollars for their imports due to scarcity of foreign exchange which is triggered by the crash of oil prices and low foreign inflow.

This is expected to be exacerbated by the recent order by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria, to stop the allocation of foreign exchange to importers of food items.

The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, warned in April, “We are heading toward famine and starvation.”

The FAO report which states that Congo has about 21.8 million people that are acutely food insecure, also points out that Burkina Faso has witnessed an almost 300% uptick in the overall number of people experiencing acute hunger since the start of 2020.

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Business

FG apologizes, says Self-Certification directive is not for everyone

The Federal Government has made clarifications concerning earlier announced Self-Certification Forms.

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FG apologizes, says Self-Certification directive is not for everyone, FIRS introduces stamp duty on house rent and C of O transactions

The Nigerian government has backtracked on its earlier issued guidelines on the new banking Self-Certification Forms, saying the notice does not apply to everyone.

On Thursday, the Nigerian government ordered all persons holding accounts across financial institutions and insurance firms, to complete and submit self-certification forms to their respective financial institutions.

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It stated, “This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc.) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions. Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions are required to complete & submit the form to each one of the institutions. The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures, in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.”

However, on Friday morning, after receiving expected backlash on social media, FG attempted a clarification stating, “We apologize for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons,” and that, “the FIRS will clarify Nigerians on the objectives of the directive.”

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READ: CBN automates trading system, introduces electronic form to facilitate exports 

The FIRS earlier today made a statement, that the guidelines are only for non-residents, and people paying tax in more than one country.

READ: Tax implication of IFRS adoption in Nigeria: key issues

“The Self Certification Form is basically to be administered on Reportable persons, holding accounts in Financial institutions, that are regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions” under the CRS. Reportable persons are often non-residents and other persons, who have residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or Country.”

“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction, is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during account opening processes, for the KYC and AML purpose.” the statement read.

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