A few weeks ago I visited a locally-owned shop in Evansville searching for a gift for my daughter. I was drawn there by their social media account (something we’ll talk about in a future post), which regularly features their product lines and quirky gift ideas. The father/daughter duo who own the shop greeted me warmly and asked if I was looking for anything specific. And when I shared what I needed, the daughter expertly showcased the wares and guided me through the selection process. As I browsed the remainder of the store, we chatted about where I was from, discovered we knew someone in common, and even delved into my occupation. I asked about her and the origins of the shop, and absolutely enjoyed every minute and every dollar I spent there. She was curious about me, her customer, and I left that shop feeling seen, heard, and excited about returning.
Whether you own a small business or are employed by one, you hopefully recognize the value of the customer experience. After all, customers drive your business and can serve as your greatest marketers or your worst critics. My experience at Rare Bird Gifts in Evansville demonstrates the power of customer service and key steps in developing brand loyalty.
In honor of the upcoming National Get to Know Your Customers Day on July 21st, I thought it might be worth exploring why intentional positive customer experiences are so important and how you can ensure that those happen frequently.
Let’s talk numbers first.
According to this article in Forbes Magazine, it’s worth investing in customer service and experiences because:
Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.
96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty.
77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
Loyal customers are five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend to the company.
American consumers will pay 17% more to purchase from a company with a reputation for great service.
77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback
Companies that provide an emotional connection with customers outperform the sales growth of their competitors by 85%.
A 2% increase in customer retention is the same to profits as cutting costs by 10%.
The top reason customers switch brands is because they feel unappreciated.
The proof is in the numbers. Customers and clients want to know that they are more than a profit. When you intentionally put systems in place and account for customer feedback, those happy customers become repeat customers who recommend your services, and naturally profits increase.
So how can you apply this every day, and especially on National Get to Know Your Customers Day?
Check out these 5 tips to try.
Embrace Social Media
Nearly every generation is on one platform or another. Put a face with your brand by engaging in live video, whether that is showcasing a product, giving a behind-the-scenes look, or introducing your team. And be sure to engage when individuals comment or share your posts.
Build Your Story
A lot more than price goes into consumers’ purchasing decisions. How can you share the story behind your business? What are your company values? Humanize the brand by sharing a little bit of yourself, your vision, and the problem you solve with your products or service.
Follow Up with Customers
Reach out after a purchase and ask for customer feedback. Many POS systems send out quick satisfaction surveys. And if a customer expresses dissatisfaction, follow up to see how you can make it right.
Grow at a Pace that is Conducive to Customer Service
While business growth is a significant goal, don’t let it be at the expense of great customer service. Customer retention is less expensive than customer acquisition.
Launch a Loyalty Program
What can you offer repeat customers? Is there a sign-up bonus? A referral bonus? A coupon or percentage off after so many purchases? Reward your customers for their loyalty and they’ll keep coming back.
The Bottom Line
Consumers have limitless choices when it comes to spending their hard-earned dollars. Your job is to stand out among the competition. The best way you can do that is to make a personal connection with your customers and clients, giving them a reason to engage in your business beyond just the product or service you sell.
So how will you create the best customer experience possible? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.