Regardless of what type of business your small business conducts, customer service should always be a top priority. Research from PwC, a consultancy, revealed that approximately 42% of consumers would pay more for a "friendly, welcoming experience". The report also estimated that positive customer experience could result in a price premium of up to 16%, which is a clear motivation for all businesses. With that said, we've highlighted a few ways that your SME can improve its customer experience.
Track Your Business's Progress
Customer experience can often seem abstract and intangible. To address this issue, it is important to monitor the effectiveness of your efforts. One way to do this is to identify and track quantifiable measurements, also referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs). Ultimately, you want to identify data points that help you understand the customer's entire journey. This can be difficult to isolate, so it is helpful to break this down by aspects that would be important to your customers. For example, key factors may include ease of shopping and purchase, wait times and availability of customer support when necessary.
How to Seek Customer Feedback
Depending on your business's scale and sophistication, KPIs may take different forms. For example, if your business relies on a website, you may have access to troves of web analytics data that can help you assess user behavior on your site. Similarly, large companies may already have access to a wide variety of customer information that can provide insights into customers' preferences. On the other hand, if you are running a small shop or restaurant, you may not have the these luxuries. In this case, you may have to rely on solicited customer feedback in the form of brief surveys or even simple conversations, to identify the most important experience factors for your customers.
Address Prioritised Problems
Once you've had a chance to review your KPIs and feedback from your customers, you will be better equipped to address your most pressing customer experience problems. If you identify several problems, you may want to prioritise these by how easy they are to fix or by the potential impact on revenue. Due to the wide variety of small businesses, there is not a one-size-fits-all type of rule for this task. Instead, your SME will have to prioritise based on its own circumstances.
Train & Retain Great Employees
Finding great employees can be a chore in itself. However, a business's work does not end after the hiring process. To ensure that you are providing customers with great service, it is crucial to ensure that your employees are happy and well-trained. Clearly, those that are more knowledgeable about your product will be best suited to assist customers. Additionally, studies have found that engaged employees are more likely to improve customer relationships and even increase sales. For these reasons, it is essential that the skills and engagement of your own employees are a part of your customer experience mission.
What if Great Customer Experience Gets Expensive?
It can be costly to to hire additional employees in order to meet your growing customer service needs, or to hire an analyst to track KPIs. If your business requires financing to grow your team, there are a number of options available. These range from business term loans to equity financing. In order to ensure that you get the best type of financing for your business needs, it is crucial to carefully review the best products available before beginning your financing application process.
Bottom Line: Know Your Customers
Many successful businesses are already providing great customers experience, whether or not it's been a primary focus for their team. That said, there is always room for improvement when it comes to customer experience and given the potential impact on your company's bottom line, it is an issue that cannot be ignored. When it comes to making customer experience a priority, you'll ultimately want to learn more about how your customers interact with your company, in order to more effectively deliver your product.