In the previous post, we defined the customer experience and explained why businesses that are launching new products and marketing strategies should make the customer experience a top priority. We discussed the various types of interactions and contacts that occur during the customer journey and offered recommendations for developing and managing a customer experience strategy.
In many ways, small businesses are well-positioned to deliver an exceptional customer experience. While large enterprises have deeper pockets and more resources, smaller organizations have more agility and less complexity. Decision-makers are more in tune with the needs of the customer. There’s less red tape, which makes it simpler to implement new processes and technologies that can enhance the customer experience.
Here are six ways small businesses can turn the customer experience into a competitive advantage.
1) Get Under the Hood of Your Customers
Move beyond basic demographic data and learn what makes your customers tick. What are their priorities? What keeps them up at night? What can you do to make their lives better? What influences their behavior and decisions? If you know your customers better than the competition, you’ll be able to deliver a better and more personal customer experience.
2) Be More Responsive
Whether it’s a customer service complaint or a Facebook comment, your customers appreciate a fast response. If there’s a problem, respond quickly and do everything possible to resolve the issue during the first interaction.
3) Use Your Flexibility and Agility to Your Advantage
Processes and procedures are important, but they can also get in the way of delivering the best possible customer experience. Make sure your employees know which processes and procedures are set in stone, and which ones have exceptions. Don’t tie the hands of employees with strict rules established by legal and human resources.
4) Train and Empower Your Employees
The people on the front lines who interact with customers on a daily basis are the ones who typically determine whether the customer experience is positive or negative. Make sure they’re able and permitted to make decisions and solve problems to benefit the customer without constantly seeking a manager’s approval.
5) Focus on the Relationship, Not the Sale
Relationships lead to loyalty – and more sales. Customer relationships can be cultivated in person, on the phone, and through email and social media. Each interaction should build a stronger bond between your organization and the customer.
6) Use Technology to Enhance All of the Above
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data management tools, analytics and other technology enable you to collect, organize, analyze and access data about your customers. They also make it possible to capture customer feedback in real time and measure the effectiveness of the customer experience.
Offering multiple communication options – phone, email, text, instant message, video conferencing, social media, etc. – makes it easier for customers to interact with you on their terms. Integrating these platforms into a unified communications system simplifies and streamlines communication processes. Automation capabilities within all these tools save time and money and reduce the risk of error.
The key to optimizing the customer experience is to never be satisfied. You can always do better by staying focused on the needs of your customers and adapting processes accordingly. SSD can make sure your technology is aligned with business processes and help you choose and implement new solutions to continually improve the customer experience.