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What’s your game plan for 2019 to grow your business? Have you thought about focusing on customer experience?

In this article, you’ll learn why customer experience is crucial for small business growth and the steps needed to deliver a top-notch experience for your customers.

Does getting high-quality leads in your small business feel like finding a needle in a haystack?

You’re not alone, even companies like Airbnb or Apple had the same struggles when they were still starting. So how did these tech giants overcome their difficulties in getting more high-quality leads?

Both companies have a customer-centric culture.  In fact, customer experience is touted as the new brand.

But for small businesses that aren’t as popular as the big brands, can a customer-centric business model work?

The resounding answer is yes!

For a start, recent stats in PwC’s customer experience survey revealed that 73% of consumers point to customer experience as an essential factor in their purchasing decisions, whether the company is large or small.   What’s more, customers say they are more likely to try additional services or products from brands that provide superior customer experience.

Your 3-Step Plan to Improve Customer Experience in Your Small Business

Can you imagine losing a third of your customers for good in a single day because of poor customer experience?

According to the same survey by PwC, one in three consumers say they will walk away from a brand they love following a bad experience, while more than half said that they would walk away after several bad experiences.

If you want your small business to rise above the competition and get ahead of the customer experience race this year, here’s a three-step plan you can follow

1. Move beyond the usual demographic data and try to understand your customers’ real needs and desires.

What customer challenges can your small business solve? How will your service or product change their lives? What keeps them up at night? What worries them?

Put yourself in their shoes to get thoughtful answers to these questions. Imagine their daily struggles, challenges, and the decisions they make every day. As what Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said — start with the customer and work backward.

Once you’ve answered these questions, there’s no room for your small business to leave any stone unturned in providing value to your customer. 

It also makes sense to go where your customers are. For example, don’t spend too much time posting on LinkedIn when your target customers are more likely to respond to short, snappy visual content like infographics and photos on Twitter.

2. Keep your employees or small business team happy.

So what’s the link between keeping your employees happy and better customer experience in your small business?

Engaged employees are the backbone of excellent customer experience. In last year’s State of the American Workplace, Gallup reports that employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20 percent increase in sales.

Author and organizational consultant Simon Sinek said it best: Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders – in that order.

When your employees are engaged, appreciated and empowered using new technologies, they are more likely to drive higher customer satisfaction. The most enduring long-term competitive advantage in your business isn’t your product or service. It’s your people.

One good way to improve employee engagement within a small business team is to give employees autonomy and the freedom to work on their new ideas. Acknowledge a great, workable idea when you see it. Keep in mind that employees at every level have something to contribute.

3. Be proactive in asking for customer feedback and act on it.

When was the last time you felt heard? It was a great feeling, right?

It’s the same feeling that your customers experience when you ask and collect feedback from them. With feedback, you can identify which areas of your small business are doing great and which ones require significant improvements.

When asking for feedback using quantitative research or customer satisfaction scores, don’t just limit yourself to ratings or hard data. No amount of market research can give you as much customer insights than a well-thought-out qualitative survey or interview.

Finally, don’t just talk about your small business’ culture of prioritizing customer research. Act on the insights and data you’ve collected.

Ready to Ramp Up Your Small Business Customer Experience?

Give customers an exceptional experience, and they’ll buy more and buy often.

While many companies focus their resources on the next big thing in marketing to wow consumers, nothing beats the “human touch” in building experiences that matter the most for your clients and customers.

customer business concept graphic