Every consumer market is driven by the consumers. CEOs, executives, marketing professionals, and so on all make their decisions based on the needs, wants, and whims of one lowly person — the customer. While huge corporations are already on the bandwagon of doing everything they can to provide their customers with the best experience possible, many small businesses overlook the importance of CX to their company. Failing to put a CX strategy into place can cost you the brand loyalty that your company needs to thrive.
1. Huge Companies Already Have a Competitive Edge
When you’re heading out to the grocery store to pick up a few things for the weekend, where are you more likely to go: the corner market with a tiny parking lot in the back, or your neighborhood Wal-Mart? No matter what your industry, you will be up against the big guys whose brands are already well established. And if you want to run with the big dogs, you have to stay one step ahead of them by giving your customers a reason to choose you rather than them.
2. Brand Image is About a Customer’s Entire Experience, Not Just One Aspect of It
A few short years ago, brand image was largely about what you were trying to tell your customers with your marketing tactics. Not so anymore, when consumers have come to expect a feast at every meal and information at their fingertips 24/7. From the ambiance of your place of business to the customer service you provide to the navigability of your website, the entire experience must be seamless if you want repeat business.
3. Customers are Increasingly Demanding
People used to put up with a few perceived shortcomings to remain loyal to their companies of choice. Today, however, consumers are less loyal than they ever have been before. One bad fry is grounds for complaint, refund, and a whole box of free fries to boot. In a market ruled by the idiom, “The customer is always right,” customers can and will demand just about anything. And today, customers demand a fully integrated experience wherever they go.
4. One Bad Internet Review can Ruin Your Company’s Reputation
Sure, word-of-mouth sharing still happens — it’s just that virtual sharing is so much more far-reaching. The big companies all have a few bad reviews; but for a small business, especially a local one, a single bad review could mean the loss of dozens of customers or more.
So How Can a Small Business Create an Unbeatable Customer Experience?
First, create a Customer Experience team. You can use employees that you already have — even a team of two can tackle your CX needs. Secondly, align your CX team with your marketing team to make sure that the message your marketing is trying to send aligns with the customer experience you hope to provide. That way, new customers will already feel familiar with your brand the first time they check out your website or walk through your door.
- You can’t view customers as a collective — look to the needs of the individual. Demographics are great information, but in the end, it’s all about the individual experience.
- Excellent web design is a must. You need a responsive, social website that provides information your customers can use, whether that includes the prices of your menu items or tutorials on how to use your products. The more relevant the information, the better.
- Make great customer service a priority. Give your customers their choice of contact methods if they have a problem, or if they simply need help. Make sure that they have a phone number they can call or text as well, and that you keep that phone nearby at all times so you can respond quickly.
- Market through social media, online directories, radio ads, print, and even promotional products. Just make sure that all of those marketing efforts line up with the customer experience you are trying to create — you could lose customers if they feel like they didn’t get what they expected based on your marketing.
- Entertainment never hurts. People love to be entertained, so oblige them by posting funny memes, informative videos, and written content that doesn’t feel like a drag to read on your social media. Nobody wants to share a dry, boring article when the other guy is delivering the same message in a hilarious video.
- Offer free WiFi. Seriously. Sometimes, free WiFi can be a consumer’s sole deciding factor between two similar businesses.
- If you get a bad review or two, consider investing in online reputation management. ORM can help boost public opinion of your business, especially if you are a local business. After all, over 70 percent of consumers check online before they try a place of business out for the first time.
An in-house CX team can be a vital asset to your small business. Web design, marketing, ORM, and social media management can all be effectively outsourced, but customer experience hits a little closer to home. And as the tech-savvy Millennials are comprising a larger and larger share of consumers, your small business simply cannot do without a strong customer experience strategy.