Small businesses need an actual strategy to guide their customer service decisions, and it's not as hard to create as it sounds, writes consultant Errol Allen. First, act like a big corporation by deciding in advance how you will interact with customers, what incentives you'll use to encourage loyalty and even how long you'll let a phone ring before it's answered, Allen writes. Other tips: Examine the processes your business uses for dealing with customers and create measures to gauge everything from order fulfillment to customer complaints.

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