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How to Improve Your Small Business Customer Experience

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Building a loyal customer following can be easy if your clients have a great customer experience. Whether it is on your website, phone, or face-to-face, it is vital to build a great bond with your customers. 

As a small business, you have the ability to offer even better customer service options that larger businesses can’t. How many times have you called a big company to only get someone that is an overseas operator? As a small business, great communication is crucial. 

Why Is a Great Customer Experience Important?

Builds Trust

When you offer great customer service you are building trust with that individual. Also, you are doing what you say you will do. If you offer a guarantee and you give a refund or something of equal value, your customers appreciate that. Once they see you will do what you say (and with compassion), they are more likely to trust you.

Builds Loyalty

When your customer feels like you are listening to their complaints, they start becoming loyal when you fix the issue. Most customers understand a mistake can happen. It is how you handle it. When you are up front and honest, you build customer loyalty

Creates Brand Endorsements

Once they trust you and loyalty has been created, then they start telling others about their experience. They will also tell everyone about their bad experience. Furthermore, positive reviews from others are more powerful than any marketing method. 

Creates Happy Employees

More trust and loyal customers bring more business to your company. Then, your employees are happy because they are making good things happen for others. You have hired the best. They want to work for the best. 

Prevents Business Closure

If everyone is happy, then your business has a better chance of survival. Treating customers, your staff, and other businesses with excellent service and kindness will offer value to your community. Also, people shop where they have an exceptional customer experience.  

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What Can You Do to Improve Your Customer Experience?

Create a Customer Experience Strategy

Customer experience (CX) is defined as how customers engage with your company and brand throughout the entire time of being your customer. It can be good or bad. You may have one perception of that experience, but the customer may have a different feeling or idea. It is more than satisfaction; it is their entire experience with your business throughout the relationship. 

The benefits of creating a great CX are increased loyalty and satisfaction. It is also word-of-mouth marketing, positive reviews, and recommendations.  

Several ways to achieve great CX is:

  • Really listen to your customers. Be emotionally intelligent and react professionally to their issues. Even if you don’t find the issue important or relevant. 
  • Collect customer surveys and develop customer strategies based upon those results.
  • Implement best practices, systems, and processes to address future issues. 

Work to Understand What Your Customers Need

Take time to understand your customers, what they need, their preferences, and what they don’t like. Once you understand this, you can help solve their problems. You can tailor your products, services, and overall experience to serve your customers better. 

Personalize Their Experiences

If you can, use customer data to create personalized offers and recommendations. Make them feel valued and appreciated by personalizing their experiences. Learn their names, get to know them personally, and develop a relationship. 

Know Common Issues Which Cause a Bad Customer Experience

Understanding what causes a bad experience can help you install systems and processes to prevent future problems. 

  • Rude or unprofessional employees. How many times have you gone to a store and two employees are talking about their weekend or problems while in front of you? How about when they treated you as if you were wasting their time? 
  • Waiting times are long. Do you have enough agents or store employees to address customer concerns? 
  • Bad service. Do customers have to use automated services too much? Do they even get to talk to someone when they have a problem? FAQ pages are great on websites to address common questions but ensure they can reach someone at your company when they have a problem. It’s not easy to make the call for some of them. They may really have an issue and if you have systems in place where they can’t talk to someone, you are probably going to lose that customer. Also, be sensitive to those people who are elderly or handicapped. 
  • Making assumptions. Don’t make any assumptions and suggestions based on sex, race, age, disability, etc. For example, don’t ask a woman if she wants to ask her husband’s opinion on something and vice versa. Ensure your policies do not discriminate against anyone. How many times have you heard a story in the news where a business discriminated against their customers? Although something may not be against the law, it can cause you to have a bad reputation quickly, especially once word spreads around. Furthermore, hire employees who are open to serving a diverse group of customers.

Make it Easy for Your Customers

Make it easy for customers to interact with your business. You should ensure you streamline your processes and invest in technology that will simplify steps to ensure they can make easy transactions and communicate with you better.

Some customers want to only use online services and dislike calling people. Some customers want to only be able to call and get their information. Not having information on your website or not answering the phone can be frustrating. Technology is great but if it makes it harder for your customers, it isn’t helping you to achieve what you need – sales. You should provide multiple ways for customers to reach your business – phone, email, live chat, social media, and even texting is becoming more popular. 

Train Your Employees

Find a good training program and ensure you are training your staff on good customer service. This should be a priority when implementing a training program. 

Customer satisfaction should be your number one priority for your small business. Train your staff to handle customer complaints properly and be able to offer solutions to problems. 

Hire great workers too. Great employees want to exceed customer expectations. Ask your employees for feedback as well. Brainstorm with them about common customer issues. Listen to what they say as you may discover something you didn’t know. 

Think about implementing small weekly training sessions. Talk to your staff about what they are hearing to get more information. This will give everyone valuable insight. Don’t get angry by what you hear. If you discuss a new way to do something, then make sure you update your process books. 

Provide a Great Company Culture 

A positive company culture is clearly shown by how much your employees are engaged. If your company morale is great, you are doing things well. Engaged employees feel like the company in which they work is their company.  

Engaged employees actively look for new ways to make their job or the business better. They work to improve the workplace, improve productivity, and increase profits. If employees are engaged, then they will do whatever they need to do to make sure goals are achieved. Furthermore, they will offer excellent customer service. 

Don’t Allow Bad Service

If your staff isn’t happy or if they are having a bad day, do not allow bad customer service. One bad experience for your customers will result in negative reviews. You should implement a zero-tolerance policy for bad customer service if someone has been trained. Also, if your business handles customer complaints via phone, think about implementing a phone system which can record the conversation. You can use these as training sessions. 

Really bad service can end up on social media. You only want to present your business in a positive light. To do that, you should ensure you hire, train, and continue developing your employees and yourself. If someone doesn’t reflect your brand well to others, then you shouldn’t keep them. 

Final Thoughts on Customer Experience

Good customer service and offering a great experience for your customers isn’t difficult. Furthermore, you should ensure your employees reflect your brand. Develop yourself and your employees so that your customers have a great experience where they tell others to use your product or service. 

Also, consider developing a strategy. Research what works and what doesn’t. Brainstorm with your team. What bad experiences have they had? What can you do to ensure you never do those things to your customers? Hold meetings at least once a week to go over customer complaints and give your employees an opportunity to ask questions on how to handle certain issues. Be open and honest and let your employees do the same thing. 

Also, hire employees who want to work for you and give good service. If they don’t care about their job, they aren’t going to care for your clients. 

Remember, reliably delivering a positive customer experience requires ongoing efforts. By prioritizing your customers’ needs and seeking ways to improve, you can grow your small business and foster customer loyalty.


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.