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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 important for you to build a great relationship with your customers. 

Research by American Express found that:

  • Customers are willing to pay more (17%) for a better customer experience. 
  • Poor service costs companies. More than one half of Americans state they have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service. 
  • 33 percent say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. 


Why Is a Great Customer Experience Important?

Builds Trust

When your business offers great customer service your company is 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 equal, 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’s how a mistake is handled that builds customer loyalty


Creates Brand Endorsements

Once your customer trusts 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 endorsements 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, employees, and other businesses with excellent service and kindness will offer value to your community. Also, people shop where they have an exceptional customer experience.  


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. 


Know Common Issues Which Cause a Bad Customer Experience

Understanding what causes a bad experience can help you implement 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 customer service 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 all types of people. 


Train Your Employees

Find a good training program and ensure you are training all your employees 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. You should train every employee to handle customer complaints properly and be able to offer solutions to problems. 

Hire great employees 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. Let your employees talk 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. 

 


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Confirm You Have 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 employees aren’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 confirm 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. 

Develop 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. 

 

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Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.

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