4 Tips for Creating a Great Customer Experience
Running a small business can be such a complex and frenzied endeavor that it’s easy to forget why you started one in the first place. Although your #1 priority should be to deliver a great customer experience, you may lose sight of this goal while tending to other important issues, such as budgets, new hires, and vendors. However, if you want your company to survive and prosper, you must maintain a laser-sharp focus on your clientele.
For example, it's often difficult for small businesses to compete with larger operations on price, but customers are often willing to pay more for personalized services — something franchises and chain stores usually can’t provide. This personal service often translates into long-term customer loyalty, which increases word of mouth, lowers marketing costs, and drives sales and profits.
Here are four tips to ensure a consistently favorable experience for each customer who walks through your door.
- Exude a positive attitude. Being greeted by a smiling employee makes a terrific first impression. So does the business owner’s willingness to actively listen to a customer’s needs or concerns. If a problem occurs with your product or service, acknowledge the situation and find a solution that makes everyone happy. This means doing what you say you’re going to do, keeping the customer updated, and then following through to ensure a favorable outcome. Take every opportunity to thank your customers, too: They’re the reason your business continues to exist and, hopefully, grow.
- Understand how your business is different from others. If you don’t already know, take time to identify what sets your company apart from your competitors. What’s your niche in the industry? How well do you know your target customer? What kind of service do you provide that no one else does?
- Empower your employees. Each of your employees, whether they work behind the scenes or interact directly with customers, should have a clear grasp of your company’s goals and values. They should also have first-hand knowledge of your product or service, including its features and benefits and, most importantly, how it can enhance the customer’s life. Employees should be given the authority to make customer-friendly decisions on the spot, without always having to consult you or some other supervisor. If employees see you focus on providing a great customer experience, it will become their priority as well.
- Keep your operations simple. Any business saddled with a lot of policies and procedures will find it tough to create a great customer experience. Whether customers visit your business online or in person, your interactions with them should be straightforward, efficient, and friendly. Remember the emotional component to the customer experience: We all want to feel welcome, appreciated, and — if only for a few minutes — the center of your attention. Making it easy for customers to purchase your product or service will strengthen your relationship with them and encourage them to return again and again.
No matter how wonderful your product or service is, what will truly propel your business forward is an unwavering focus on the customer experience.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.