Small Business Customer Service Should Be ProactiveThe other day I was at my parents house when my mom called me in to the other room to look out the window. There had been a truck parked in front of their house for a few hours, and now there was a young guy laying on the sidewalk. And he wasn’t laying there in the “I’m just taking a break” kind of pose. It was more like the “Is he dead or alive” kind of pose that you could very easily draw a chalk line around..

We watched him for a few minutes and noticed no movement. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I made the garage door go down and up, just to make enough noise to see if he would stir. Still, no movement.

Well, you don’t often see a guy just laying on the sidewalk like that, so we went outside and my mom called out, “Sir?”, just to see if he was OK, while I got ready to dial 9-1-1. Well, he looked up and apologized and just said that his truck had broken down and was waiting for someone to come and help them, followed by,

“I guess I really should stop laying on sidewalks like this.”

You see, we weren’t sure if everything was OK, but we did decide to check on him, after observing him for awhile and seeing no signs of “life”. Something didn’t seem right, so we checked. We reached out to him.

Small business owners need to do the same. Quite often you get to know the people who come through your doors on a regular basis, and get to know them well. You learn their names, hear their stories, and at times, it seems as if you know their families well, too. Some of them might connect with you on your business page on Facebook, but there are those with whom you might connect more personally: on your personal Facebook profile or Twitter. You might even communicate with them from time to time.

But what if one day they didn’t show up. Or perhaps a week or month goes by and they don’t stop in like before. Perhaps something is wrong. This is a perfect time for you to reach out and check in on them.

Are they OK? Are they just not in need of your services and products or has something happened? Perhaps you did something that caused them to move on to one of your competitors without informing you. It could be any number of things, but when your regular, highly motivated and prized customers don’t follow their normal patters, there’s a good chance something is up.

That’s a perfect time to reach out and make your customer service proactive. It reminds me of the postcards we used to get as kids when we were sick and missed one week of Sunday School. The teacher would send out these cards just to let us know they were thinking of us.

Customer service should never be merely reactive. Don’t wait for your customers to come to you with their questions or complaints. Some of them might not feel comfortable doing that, as they might feel awkward criticizing a “friend”. They might think that it’s easier to just fade away rather than make waves.

Make sure you follow up with your customers and check in on them from time to time. Proactive customer service can do wonders. It can strengthen an already strong relationships, and repair a potentially broken relationship.

How are you reaching out to your customers, even when they aren’t asking for customer service?