How small businesses can handle service delays and staffing issues

The more business owners work to strengthen their presence, the easier it becomes to retain loyal customers and increase local market share.

July
30, 2021

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As the country re-opens, small businesses in all industries are feeling the stress of dealing with service delays and impatient customers. Much of these service delays are due to labor shortages. In fact, as of May 11, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.1 million open positions in the United States at the end of March, the highest number since records began in 2000. It is critical to temper disgruntled customers by making sure your brand's digital presence and marketing efforts don't fall by the wayside.

One of the most important tips is to make sure that the company is effectively reporting service delays to customers. Set realistic expectations from the start and let them know why their service might be delayed. Creating an open flow of communication not only helps customers build trust with a brand, but it also reduces the likelihood that a customer will leave a negative review on the company online.

Related: Are you a Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur?

Another factor to consider with service delays is that consumers are looking for alternatives online more than ever. When someone comes across a company's name, the first thing they do is check their online reviews. In fact, 90% of buyers review a company's reviews before making a purchase. Check your brand's reviews daily, paying special attention to any negative ones. It is important to acknowledge these concerns and respond to any assessment.

One of the best ways to get a business's reviews to show up is to make sure all listings on platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and Bing are up to date. Not only do these entries help potential customers find out about hours of operation, services, and location, but they are also one of the best places to list company announcements. If none of these listings have been set up for a business, the most important thing to do is start with Google My Business (GMB). The GMB listing determines what information is displayed on Google Maps and is usually the first to appear in a search engine.

Related: 5 Things You Shouldn't Do When Running a Small Business

The CDC is constantly updating its health and safety protocols with a view to returning to normal. There is a lot of confusion and controversy about when to wear a mask or whether vaccination is mandatory for employees and customers to receive service. The best way to avoid awkward situations is to publicize the company's stance on masks and vaccines. From restaurant workers to HVAC technicians, let customers know if staff are wearing masks or need to be vaccinated. Never assume how someone is going to feel, especially if the company is in an industry where service requires employees to step into customer's property.

While some industries weaken in the summer, others pick up. For HVAC companies, the hot weather brings the biggest influx of customers of the year. It is important for business owners to keep up with trends when they are busiest and slowest. If business picks up, stay tuned and let local customers know of possible delays. To stay ahead of the traffic, email before the busy season to encourage the customer to schedule maintenance or inspections as soon as possible.

It's easy to get complacent about managing digital presence and handling marketing efforts for a company. However, the more business owners work to strengthen their presence, the easier it becomes to retain loyal customers and increase local market share.

Related: 9 Strategies for Increasing Small Business Profitability

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