A business is only a great idea without a customer at the other end. But winning those customers over is becoming more and more difficult. While a product or service can be well-conceptualized, developed and marketed, if the customer’s experience with the brand is lacking, they are quick to blacklist the company. And with social media and online review sites, consumers today have multiple outlets to express their opinions and share their experiences – negative or positive – with the world. Depending on that experience, it can make or break a business’s reputation and sales. In fact, word-of-mouth recommendations hold more sway than paid advertising.
When the customer experience not only meets the high expectations of consumers but also surpasses them, it can win you loyal, long-term fans who will recommend your business to family and friends and return for multiple future purchases. Here’s how small business owners can improve their customer’s experience, making it a central part of the marketing strategy and overall business model:
Know Who Your Customers Are
This may seem like Business 101, but it involves more than just having an idea of who your target audience might be. Understanding your customers means knowing what they are looking for in your product, how they intend to use it in their personal situation, and what questions they might have, or pain points they might come across when researching, purchasing and using it. You can use marketing analytics and information from your customer service teams to create personas of your various customers. Pay attention to what they are asking for, whether it’s increased convenience ordering or managing their online account, product personalization, or more technical support.
Connect on an Emotional Level
Studies show that more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion, as emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions (Journal of Consumer Research). Additionally, businesses that create an emotional connection with customers outperform competitors by 85% in sales growth. Customers that feel sentimental or passionate about a brand become loyal advocates, encouraging those they love to experience that connection for themselves. This can come in the form of free product returns, personalized thank you cards with each purchase, or sending the customer a free gift for their loyalty. There are many incentives that show you are more than a money-making business and that you’re there to create a personal experience and community.
Encourage and Share Feedback
Consumers have a lot to say when it comes to how they feel about products and services they’ve spent their time and money on. And while every response may not be positive, asking customers for feedback shows that the business cares and wants to make improvements where necessary. It also helps in procuring positive reviews to share on social media channels and product pages of the website.
Provide Quick Resolutions
When a customer posts a negative review or contacts customer service with an issue, it should be addressed quickly and with personal care. Addressing the customer by name and showing empathy for their situation will remind them that they are dealing with other human beings, not robots. Going beyond basic customer service and offering more than what the customer is expecting for a resolution, such as letting them keep the product they got in the wrong color while sending them the right one for free, will not negate their frustration, but create an exceptional experience they may not receive from competing brands.
The experience your customers have with your business makes a difference for your growth, your success and ultimately, your bottom line. These tactics can help you vastly improve that experience to put you ahead of the competition and top of mind with loyal customers.
Contact The Light Digital for help creating a strategy to improve your customer’s experience.