Attracting and keeping hold of customers is what all small businesses are looking to do. To be successful in this aim your customer experience needs to be top notch.
So, what can you do to make sure that your customers enjoy doing business with you and come back for more?
At Small Business Geek we have identified a few areas you should keep in check.
Don’t over promise
Running a small business can involve a lot of juggling of time and resources. The temptation is always there to over stretch when opportunities arise, with the fear that leaner times may be around the corner.
However, if you truly want to provide a great experience to your customers it’s important you don’t over promise on what you can achieve.
This interesting article about sales promises you should never make explains that you should never lockdown expectations. Provide realistic timescales to avoid disappointment.
Ultimately keeping your promises allows you to build trust which in turn results in loyalty to your goods or services. Useful techniques for enhancing your trust levels are explored further in this blog.
Understand your strengths – and weaknesses
We can’t all be good at everything – and recognising this can be key to offering a better experience for your customers.
All too often small business owners struggle to fulfil all the functions in their business when it would save time and energy to look for help in certain areas.
Admin is a great example. Keeping it under control is fundamental to the running of your business, and to making your customers happy – but so often it is neglected.
SBG’s Liz Smith said: “We often come across small business people who struggle to keep on top of their admin for a wide number of reasons. Either it’s just not their strength, they are confused about exactly what they need to do but are unsure of where to get help, or they have simply taken on so much work they are swamped and struggle to find the time. All of these reasons are totally understandable. Most people start a small business so they can do what they love for a living, and the admin side of things isn’t factored in. However, if you want to keep your business up and running and your customers happy it’s essential you find a way to organise your admin tasks.
“Take invoicing for example. If you are slow with your paperwork it can affect your cash flow and ultimately put the future of your business at risk. We carry out admin tasks for a number of small business owners and the results can be fairly instant. In fact, you can almost see a physical weight lift off their shoulders when they realise they no longer have to worry about these tasks and can focus their energy in other areas of the business.”
SBG also offers small business surgeries, giving you the chance to take a close look at all aspects of your operation and identify where you excel, areas where you may need to improve and learn new skills, and tasks which you don’t have the skills for and would prefer to outsource.
Want to understand more about your strengths and weaknesses? Try doing a SWOT analysis.
If potential customers don’t understand the service you provide / product you sell, they are unlikely to make a purchase. Producing clear, concise marketing material is therefore essential if you are looking to boost the customer experience.
Putting the customer first means exploring the problem they may have that you can solve, rather than looking at your product or service in isolation.
SBG’s Liz Smith continued: “If you can solve a problem for someone you instantly become invaluable, and it makes the move from potential customer to customer much more likely.
“Many small businesses are so focused on what they do - because they work so hard to achieve it - that they miss how best to present themselves to the world.
“We often see websites and marketing material written in a very formal style, because that’s what people think they are meant to do. However, if it doesn’t make sense to a potential customer it really isn’t worth producing.”
Also important is ensuring the promises you make in your marketing material match the true experience the customer will receive to avoid disappointment in the long run.
Imagine you are the customer
With the world moving increasingly online, a lot of small businesses will start to find they interact more with their customers through their website.
Therefore, taking the time to imagine how a customer experiences your website is a task you should regularly revisit.
If you are too close to the site to really understand how a customer would experience it, draft in friends and family to do this for you.
A great website will look attractive, have clear navigation, load quickly and help your customer understand why they need your product or service in their lives.
For your website to perform well behind the scenes and get noticed by search engines such as Google, you also need to think about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools such as key words, HTML tags and Alt Text. Afterall you could have the most beautiful website in the world but if no one can find you it is pretty pointless. Find out more about these and other tips on creating a great website in our recent blog on creating website content.
Listen and take action
Providing an excellent customer experience means understanding what your customer really wants and working out how to deliver it. When you are just starting out it’s easy to make assumptions on behalf of the customer about how they feel or what they want, but this can be a dangerous game to play.
Social media can be a great way of gathering customer experience information, but it is important you don’t just stop there. You then need to act on what you have learnt.
With customers often willing to pay more these days for brands they feel really understand them, this is an area where you shouldn’t scrimp.
Small business owners tend to feel pretty passionately about what they do. So, engaging with customers and potential customers is something which should be a pleasure not a chore.
While face to face meetings or events – when the world allows – and social media are up there as some of the best ways to converse with customers, one area which is often overlooked is email marketing.
Liz explained: “Email marketing does tend to be pretty under used by small businesses but it could make a difference to your business right now. Once set up, it’s a really easy, effective, and inexpensive way to reach lots of customers at the click of a button.
“When used well it can be tailored to really meet your customers interests, making a click-through to your website – and ultimately a purchase - much more likely."
Do you need help or support to make sure your small business offers a great customer experience? Get in touch today.