We live in a consumer-driven marketplace and, as we know, that means evolving expectations. After 20 years in the industry, I live and breathe all things customer experience and, considering the year we’re having, there’s an obvious shift in what customers expect out of businesses.
At one point, companies could rely on the quality of their product or service to retain loyal customers, but by the end of 2020, the importance of the experience that you deliver will surpass price and product. Customer experience will be the key brand differentiator. You could be turning customers off if you’re not putting in the time to deliver a seamless, frictionless experience.
It’s important to deliver an end-to-end client experience that makes you easy to do business with. If you fail to keep up with customers’ increasing demands, they will leave you for a company that can. Don’t let national and regional players take customers from you. Following these 6 simple steps will make you easy to do business with and have customers coming back to you month after month.
Boost Your Online Presence
Let’s get introspective. Close your eyes and walk yourself through the journey that a potential customer has with your business from start to finish. When they stumble across your website, do you provide a frictionless customer experience?
Your website is your storefront. It should be easy to navigate, free from clutter and work seamlessly on mobile, too. If you aren’t online, you’re going to want to remedy that quickly and become a digital business. More than half of consumers won’t trust your business if you don’t have an online presence. If a friend mentioned someone’s business to you and there was no website or if the website was a mess, would you use that company? Unless you’re a tad crazy, I’m sure that answer is no.
Social media presence has become increasingly important. It’s a big place for referrals, word of mouth, reviews and beyond. If people find your company’s social media, are you ready? Are you posting frequently? Are your posts timely and relevant? Is your page screaming out, “we’re open and ready to serve”?
Any information they’d like to find about your company should be accessible. Ensure that the information is not only correct but consistent across all online listings. There’s nothing worse than three different listings for one company with conflicting information. How will your clients know what’s correct?
Potential customers also become aware of your business through reviews, but it’s more than just generating reviews. What are you doing with them afterward? If your customers are taking the time to leave a review, you should be responsive whether it’s a thank you or resolution — but we’ll discuss more on that later.
Get and Stay Organized
In this day and age, everyone should have some form of CRM to centralize customer data. For example, client history.
When you’re running a small business, oftentimes you’re the entire C-suite on your own. When a current client comes in, you need to know what they bought and why they bought it in order to have a simple and productive conversation about additional products or services they should purchase.
At a minimum, be able to acknowledge that you remember them and their initial purchase. As for organizing their payments, segmenting customers by how frequently they spend with you will help you better tailor the customer experience.
After working with small business America for two decades, I’ve seen owners say that their schedules are erratic, and they’re not sure how much time to book for each service. This is a tough one but, online appointment booking is something worth working towards.
People are surfing the web and looking for people to do businesses with. Allow them the opportunity to schedule a time online to speak with you on the phone or in person. This in itself will decrease your likelihood of no-shows while improving customer experience.
Make Payments Easy
Your inability to make payments painless could be seriously turning off your clientele. If you require customers to pay in cash, checks or taking credit card numbers over the phone, it’s time to take a good look in the mirror and re-evaluate payment methods.
Contactless payments: If you can’t do it, find a way to do it and make it happen. Not only is it convenient, but as soon as COVID-19 impacted the nation, it became part of delivering exemplary service.
If you’re still sending quotes and estimates via email or, in some cases, the good old carbon paper, you’re missing the opportunity to centralize your customer information within the CRM. Following up or searching for the quote becomes that much more difficult and searching for the quote approval from the client is just as tough.
This disorganization doesn’t make for a seamless experience. Utilizing a CRM is not only a great way to pass that information back and forth to deliver that seamless customer experience but also gives you a mechanism where it’s easy to follow up and watch the status of those quotes and estimates. This technology has transformed from “nice to have” to “necessity.”
Customers leave in our absence. If you want to win your customers over you must communicate effectively. Whether it’s through the client portal or a single inbox, your customers expect to communicate with you, and you need it as a point of reference at the client level. Again, centralization is key. Running a business is hard; there’s no reason to make it any more difficult.
Over communication is better than under communication.
When it comes to social media, use it! There’s no such thing as over posting. Be loud, be proud and let them know you’re ready for their business. More importantly, if you’re not a paid advertiser on a social platform like Facebook, only 5-10% of your followers will see your post — yes, regardless of how great your post is.
Another great way to communicate with your customers is through email and text reminders. There’s nothing worse than driving to an appointment and the client isn’t even there when you arrive, or they never come to the office after you’ve cleared your schedule. That’s a loss. You can never get that time, energy, mileage or gas back. By sending over a quick reminder, you can drastically reduce the number of no-shows.
Automate! Automate! Automate!
I’ve thrown quite a bit at you. I get it — you’re just one person and you’re busy trying to run a business. You don’t have time to send out emails, texts, receipts, etc. Here’s the thing, the fact that you’re so busy doesn’t change the game.
Communication takes a lot of work, so let some of that be automated. Automating is like that electronic employee who’s there 24/7 do the hard work for you so you can do what you’re passionate about — running your business.
When someone creates an appointment, you can automate it to send a reminder the day or hour before. Did you just complete a service? Automate your system to shoot over a thank you or receipt. A week later you can have it set to send a follow-up email where you can add a call-to-action button to either drop a review or schedule another appointment.
In fact: 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that:
- recognizes them by name
- recommends options based on their past purchases
- knows their purchase history
Showcase Your Customer Experience with Reviews
If you want to elevate your customer’s experience, you’ll need to earn more reviews. Reviews are vital because it not only improves customer service but also encourages repeat business. It also provides consumers with confidence in choosing your business. Just as important, reviews have an organic rank factor. The more reviews there are, the more convinced search engines and social sites are to recommend your business more often.
If you’re struggling to get reviews, identify your happy customers and ask them for a review, then reply. Customers take the time out of their day to leave reviews, you can take 2 seconds for a thank you.
Of course, life isn’t all good all of the time. When negative reviews roll in, you’ll want to reply to those. Resolving negative reviews publicly will let potential clients see that even when something is wrong, you’ll go out of your way to rectify the situation.
When you put in the work, these 6 simple steps will pay off in the form of more free time and increased sales. And, if you need a hand in getting started, you don’t have to do it alone.