As the year comes to an end, how do you think your small business (and you as a business owner) fared? The answer will be different for everyone, and the criteria the answer is based on will be different as well.

Depending on your goals and priorities, “success” may mean something else for you than it does for the shop owner down the street. Inc. recently did a roundup of some really interesting studies on the subject, one of which showed the different ways the small business owners who were surveyed measure their success. Where do you fit on this graph?

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The days of one-size-fits-all customer service are long gone – especially for small business owners. With big box stores offering free shipping, no sales tax, and deep discounts, the little guy has one last frontier on which to compete, and that’s customer service. The ability to form relationships and adjust service experiences to suit individual customers is what keeps a lot of people coming in to small businesses despite the fact that they might have to spend a little more money and actually get off the couch to shop there.

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Good news! You still have 3 days to get your Facebook page ready for Small Business Saturday. Sure, some of you might be in a turkey dinner coma for one of those days, but that still leaves us 2 days to work with.

Our friends at Pagemodo created a list to make it even easier. The Small Business Saturday resources page listed Pagemodo as a tool small business owners should use to promote their participation in Saturday’s event, so below you’ll find 5 ways you can use Pagemodo to do just that:

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Today’s article is a guest post from Webs’ Search Marketing Specialist, Collin Tate.

Originally this post was going to be about my experiences with Zappos, how awesome they are and how businesses both large and small should aspire to completely own customer service the way that Zappos does. Instead, I’m going to chat about an unexpected hero, and how going above and beyond typical customer service creates bonds and develops customer loyalty.

If you’ve ever owned a computer, you know how frustrating it is when things stop working. There’s little worse than when you have an accidental drop, you get a virus, when hardware fails or kids or pets get their little hands or paws on your computer. If you’re like me, you first try to troubleshoot the issue alone. When that doesn’t work, you call a family member or friend who knows their way around computers, hoping that they can fix your problem, all the while praying that you don’t have to call tech support.

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Today’s article is a guest post from legal blogger Matt Faustman.

Every year, MSN Money surveys adults about the quality of customer service at 150 of the best-known companies across the country and in 15 industries to find the MSN Money Customer Service Hall of Shame winners. The survey is now in its seventh year and the year-over-year industries that have acquired a bad rap for poor customer service remain the same. In the end, we dislike the banks, the cable television providers, and the credit card companies the most.

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Most often, our Webs example sites feature small businesses. But during this time of the year, it seems most appropriate to feature a non-profit doing great work in our local community.

Building Hope, Inc. also has a special place in our hearts here at Webs, as it was founded by the mother of a long-time member of our support team. For the past few years, the whole team here has had a great time collecting and wrapping gifts to be delivered to families in the surrounding counties. This year we’ll be sending gifts to 82 kids. If you’d like to get involved with Building Hope, you can view their volunteer opportunities here.

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How often do you wonder what your customers think of you?

You’ve probably thought: “If only I could read their minds, I could deliver the exact product or service they want, when they want it, at a price that makes them happy and makes me money!”  Unfortunately, this kind of psychic ability is usually reserved for TV, the movies, or Miss Cleo.

Instead of channeling your inner Mentalist, why not just ask your customers what they like or don’t like about you?

Step 1: Figure out what you want to learn from your customer
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a certain type of product or service you offer isn’t selling as well as it used to and you want to find out why.

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We know – another day, another marketing acronym. But once you’ve learned about SEM and become a wizard at SEO, you’ll need to do some great CRM in order to keep those new customers you’ve earned.

What is CRM? It stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it’s key to the success of your small business. The technical definition?

“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.” (Wikipedia)

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Today’s article is a guest post from Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout. 

As you well know, having lackluster customer service is a surefire way to get passed over by the demanding customer of today.

The question then becomes, what actually makes customer service truly memorable?

Each experience is different from the next, but there are some iron-clad rules of great service that every support team should put in place.

Below, I’ll outline 8 proven laws of outstanding support that your company should apply today.

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Word-of-mouth marketing is great for every type of business, but it truly is the life blood of small businesses. Not only is traditional advertising more expensive, small business owners and entrepreneurs operate with the understood advantage of being able to offer personalized service the way big brands simply can’t. In a crowded market, this assumption helps small businesses compete, and it makes people more likely to recommend a business they’ve tried to a friend.

But how do you encourage word-of-mouth marketing? Coming right out and asking every one of your clients to send their friends your way feels awkward — as well it should, since that how it makes your clients feel too. These requests should be individualized, because there are a lot of variables to consider: What if they didn’t actually have a great experience with you? What if they’re not the type of person to talk about things they’ve bought with friends? What if they would have recommended you on their own, but now they feel like it was your idea and no longer feel compelled? Murky waters, to be sure.

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