2009 is definitely going to be the year where small businesses have a really great chance to win in the customer service department, whilst their larger competitors go to the wall.

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. When you buy a product, do you always get it home and find you instinctively know how to use it? Or do you end up scouring the internet to see how to set it up, build it, configure it, or which buttons to press to make it work? It doesn’t matter what product you sell, you can help out your customers by providing an easy get started guide, followed up by, for instance, daily emails, which help them make the most of that product. Have you tried this? Did you know it can do this? etc

The whole thing can be done online, digitally, automated and cost you mere pennies, but in 2009, it is small touches like this which will make all the difference.Treat your customers as you would like to be treated yourself as a customer.

All of us have bought something recently that undoubtedly has had us pulling our hair out to get the most out of it. Whether it is software, a new washing machine, a car, or even a toy at Christmas, simple instructions plus follow up advice would really make a difference. Some gadgets nowadays are so complex, that quite often it isn’t even obvious where to put the batteries! And software invariably is not used to its maximum potential.

Don’t let your customers go out onto the Internet looking for advice, help and support. Get it in front of them immediately they make a purchase. Even if all it is a small piece of paper with a URL on it telling them where they will find “How to” guides, the helpline phone number, or your forum of users who will guide them through the ins and outs of your products.

Next time anyone asks them what they think of the product, what they will remember is the fact that your after sales help and support was second to none. And then you will get those all important word of mouth, or word of mouse, referrals that are worth their weight in gold.

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ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion optimisation, web development and content marketing services.