If you’re a small business it’s extremely important to stand out. Sometimes having an amazing product or the perfect location isn’t good enough. To truly differentiate your brand, you need to leverage the power of customer experience.
Customer experience (or CX) is the product of an interaction between a customer and an organization over the duration of their relationship. It’s not about a series of individual touch-points (although those are important). Instead, CX is about combining all of those touch-points into one, holistic experience.
Providing a good customer experience for your clients is significant for several reasons:
- It improves customer satisfaction
- It fosters repeat business and customer loyalty
- It increases customer advocacy and referrals
- It increases the value of the product or service you offer
- It creates a competitive advantage
And most importantly, it increases revenue and sales. In fact, a study by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that 80% of Americans would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience. A separate study reported that 64% of companies rate customer experience as the best tactic for improving customer lifetime value.
As more and more businesses are allocating resources to developing their customer experience, it’s vital for small businesses to do the same. The good news is that small businesses have a huge advantage when it comes to CX. SMBs are typically nimble and better able to see, anticipate and respond to their customer’s wants and needs, which is one of the biggest facets of building a positive customer experience.
So now that you know why customer experience is important, how should small businesses go about developing one?
Stand by your brand
Effective customer experiences aren’t just about customers. They’re also about your business. Before you map out what you want customers to take away from their interactions with you, think about your identity as a business (aka your brand). What’s your business’ values? What type of personality do you have? Are you tech-centric or more pen-and-paper? What makes you valuable? Would you describe your business’ persona as the average Joe, the wise sage or the epic hero? While these may seem like irrelevant questions, the answers will help you form the structure of what your customer experience should be like. The goal of CX is to create an environment that attracts new and repeat business and promotes your brand. When your CX meets the needs of your clients and helps them gain a better understanding of who you are, you’ve successfully achieved a masterful customer experience.
Know your customers
We know we’re stating the obvious here, but good service is key to positive customer experiences. If there’s anything you take away from this post, grab this and run: effective customer experiences are based on understanding the needs, wants and pain points of your target audience, and then putting a system in place that alleviates each of those areas. This is where small businesses tend to have the advantage over larger ones. If you’re a SMB, chances are, you already have good relationships with a lot of your customers. So take those relationships a step further and ask them how you could better meet their needs or what you could do to make their overall experience with you easier or more efficient. Have too many customers to talk to personally? Try implementing a survey. If you want to take it a step further, get to know your competition and what your target audience likes or doesn’t like about them. Then, integrate or remove those attributes into your own customer experience, while, of course, adding your own brand-centric flare to it.
Get your team on board
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same is true for CX. Keep in mind that customer experience is the summation of every interaction between a business and a customer during their relationship, which means that every interaction a customer has with your business contributes toward their overall experience. Chances are, customers will interact with several members of your team throughout their relationship with you, so it’s vital for your team to be on the same page when it comes with how you treat, talk to and interact with customers. When everyone is working together it creates a consistent experience that gives you a reliable reputation that’s easy for clients to recommend to others.
Get creative. Know your competitors and bend where they break. Think outside the business box and dare to wonder how things would be if you added an element of fun, changed up your look or implemented a new technology into customer interactions. A word of caution – and at the risk of sounding like a mom giving their tweenager social advice – don’t do something just because it’s “cool.” If your brand is the traditional type, stick with things that match that vibe. If you’re more cutting edge, you should probably do things that actually do push the boundaries. The key to differentiation is staying true to the things that make you unique and valuable, and then portraying those attributes through the power of customer experience.
We could spend another couple of hours talking about this topic, but we’re ready to hear your take on this. What are you doing or planning on doing to take your customer experience to the next level? Send us a tweet at @EliotMGroup to tell us!