The customer experience begins from the very first moment someone learns about your business. Whether it’s online, from a friend, or while walking down the street, it’s important to do everything possible to ensure a remarkable customer experience as long as that person does business with you.
Many companies simply fall short when it comes to putting the customer at the centre of their business. But to thrive in today’s economy where companies who put customers first are seeing tremendous results, it is more important than ever for small businesses to follow suit.
Here are a few great ways that small businesses can improve and manage the customer experience starting today.
Build a Culture of Customer Service
Your small business’ staff members are the people who interact with your customers the most. When hiring, look for employees that align with your company’s values and culture. Remember that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Put your best, customer-focused employees at the heart of your business connections.
It’s also very important to properly train these customer-focused employees on your company’s products, services, and target market. In-depth knowledge of your company will further help to improve how well they interact with customers.
Get Personal with Your Customers
Customers love an experience that is tailored to them as an individual. Therefore, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to make them feel special. Try things like sending specific content based on a person’s interests through your email marketing campaigns or even write birthday cards to your customers.
And don’t forget about good old paper mail. Customer’s cluttered inboxes are making it harder and harder for small businesses to make an impact. Try testing out a low-cost paper mailing campaign to see what kind of results you get.
Utilize Social Media as a Customer Service Tool
As we enter 2016, smart businesses are beginning to use social media as a tool to personalise and enhance the customer experience. Social media can be used as a customer service tool, a branding tool, an advocacy tool, a connection tool, and so much more.
Research shows that among people who have tried to connect with a company on social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.
The customer experience landscape for businesses is changing rapidly. Social media is at the forefront of this change and so businesses that are taking full advantage of the trend are seeing great results.
Give Away Free Stuff
One of the easiest ways to make your customers happy is to offer them something for free just for being a customer. The free stuff can be physical items such as company t-shirts, coffee cups, pens, tickets to your conference or webinar, etc. (try this Top Gift List from Forbes).
Or, the free stuff can provide real value to customers’ lives in other ways. For example, MailChimp provides their customers with a free Email Marketing Guide and Clarity, an online resource for aspiring entrepreneurs, offers their customers a Beginners Guide on Startups. When I Work also provides a free course on business growth to help small business owners succeed
Giving away personalised products and insights free of charge helps to build a connection with customers and increases credibility for your small business.
Make Senior Leadership Visible
Although executives at small businesses are busy people, having them connect with employees and customers will strengthen the customer experience in a big way.
Executives should make time each week to connect with employees. This improves relationships within the organisation and directly impacts and improves relationships with customers.
Executives should also set up an automated email messaging system that thanks a customer for becoming a part of the business. Offer to answer any questions that the customer may have or ask them to connect with the executive on social media. Nothing speaks to the integrity of a business more than an executive taking time out of their day to directly respond to customers.
Final Food for Thought
Did you know that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative customer experience? It takes a lot more effort to win a customer back than it does to keep them happy from the beginning. It’s time for small business to start focusing on the customer experience if they want to thrive in the future of business.