Serving local customers can carry its own unique challenges, but there are also many advantages to having local customer loyalty that you can leverage to maximize your company's overall profits. By focusing on the unique needs of your local target market, you have the potential to not only build a business but a community.
Relate To Customers
One of the advantages of serving customers locally is that they often have more in common with your customer service representatives than they would if you were trying to cater to a more broad range of people. This can include things like local events and news, community hotspots and venues, popular activities and sports teams, and many other conversation starters. Having a conversation with a customer helps to humanize the interaction and will hopefully help the customer have a better overall experience. Make sure you train your CSRs to greet and connect with everyone they talk to, be it in person or on the phone.
The advantage of working with local customers is that there are more opportunities to get to know them. This can be something as simple as having regular conversations and getting on a first name basis. Holding special events can serve as another way to meet your customers and build rapport. Provide customers with as many ways as possible to contact you.
Understand Your Customers
Understand your customers on as many levels as possible and make reasonable accommodations. If you believe the majority of people will likely be tech-literate, like if you are serving a college town, do not over-explain concepts like ordering online. Instead, provide an appropriate level of information and train your representatives to be sensitive to identifying when your customers need more assistance. Perhaps you serve a more rural area where customers need to drive a long way to get to your store. Offer accommodations like door-to-door shipping when products arrive or more parking spaces for the building.
Offer Unique Local Services
Consider special luxury services you can provide your local customers that you wouldn't be able to offer non-locals. For instance, if it would be relevant for your business to offer at-home consultation or an at-home service, this would give your business the edge over a non-local service provider.
Outsource When Appropriate
While you may not think that outsourcing is a great way to build local customer service, this is a great way to supplement other marketing and branding efforts. If your local representatives cannot be available 24/7, having call center outsourcing may be able to fill the gaps and keep returning users happy and satisfied with your service.
Consider assigning specific customer service representatives to specific customers. By doing so, your customers will feel they know the representatives and your company better, and will be more willing to work with you. Also, the assigned representatives will be able to provide a more customized service and keep loyal patrons returning.
Build a Community
The greatest accomplishment you could make through a local business is to create a local community built around your business. For example, restaurants, laundromats, and many other businesses have become community centers in a sense. For this to happen with your business, you will want to make it easy for your customers to relax and enjoy your store. This includes remembering to include comfortable seating and access to refreshments. Also, look for opportunities to offer services that go beyond your business, whether it is classes, special fairs, trade shows, or anything else that your locals would need or be interested in.
Great customer service requires a close attention to detail. While this may seem like it creates more work for your business, it will also provide you with the edge necessary to maximize profits and beat the competition.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.