There was a time, not too long ago, when creating a great customer experience wasn’t that high of a priority. Sales came first, and for the most part, this strategy seemed to work out for brands since there were fewer avenues to compete with. This landscape has drastically changed thanks to technology. If a customer has a bad experience with a business, they don’t have to continue shopping there. They move along to a competitor that fulfills their needs. Customers are also speaking up by taking to social media platforms and review sites to share news about their experience — and when customers speak, their network listens.
Today, great customer service (or a lack thereof) can make or break a small business. According to research compiled by Salesforce in their 2016 State of the Connected Customer Report and 2016 Connected Shoppers Report, 75 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience when they engage with a brand. This goes beyond an in-store appearance, with the experience covering all aspects of engagement from visiting the company’s website to engaging with their social media handles. It might sound like a tall order for a small business, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s easier than it looks to deliver consistently strong customer service across the board.
Feel like your existing customer service initiatives are growing stale or aren’t quite up to par with what you’ve noticed others successfully doing? Here’s how you can hit refresh this year and give your customers exactly what they’re looking for.
Pay attention to trends.
What’s new in the world of customer service? If you don’t know, or are trapped in a stagnant strategy, then it’s time to brush up on the latest trends. Pay attention to what’s current and relevant when it comes to crafting timely offers for your customers. As a small hint, it helps to focus on seasonal trends and offer themed promotions and content. For example, a small business might add a subtle Valentine’s Day slant to their offerings in February since the holiday is celebrated that month.
Beyond the seasons, continue to monitor trends throughout the year within your industry. You can leverage customer data to better understand these trends and work with partners to determine where the marketing focus should be placed before creating topical promotions.
At the heart of a great customer experience are the little touches that only your business can provide. You can look to other businesses as examples of offering good service, but you shouldn’t mimic their every move either.
Consider the “WOW!” factor. How can your business inspire that kind of personalized experience in each and every customer you have? Focus on what differentiates your business from everyone else and how you can go the extra mile and delight customers just by being yourself.
Be the best listener you can be.
It’s one simple word that packs a mighty punch. Listen to the feedback your customers have provided you and encourage them to continue reaching out. You should be able to spot common patterns within the customer experience of what they like versus what could be improved on when you start revamping your strategies.
Listening keeps more than the interests of customers at the front of mind too. Take the time to listen to your customer service team and get their insights for developing, and keeping, a long-term relationship with customers. Additionally, use this time to explore areas for improvement and to get everyone on the same page. By listening, your team should be able to meet the customer where they are, solve any problems they may have, and build a rapport for ongoing engagement that increases customer retention. When great customer service becomes part of your company’s culture, it becomes contagious. Your employees will feel it and so will your customers, allowing them to become loyal to your business.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.