Becoming a customer-focused brand requires thinking through the needs of your target audience. You can’t just guess at what they want. Instead, you must gather data, pay attention to behaviors and put yourself in their shoes.
A small business is a company with fewer than 500 employees, and around 30.7 million organizations in the United States fall into that category. If you want to stand out from the competition — of which there is plenty — you need to create a unique offering. Luckily, with a client-centric approach, you can improve your service and excel.
Here are eight things to consider when figuring out how well you’re meeting the needs of your audience.
Is Your Business Approachable?
No matter what type of business you run, there are likely competitors in your niche. One thing that can set you apart is putting yourself in the place of your typical buyer. Do they feel they can reach out to you with a problem or question? Where do they turn to when they have concerns?
Being approachable requires a few levels of consideration. First, you need to train employees on how to communicate effectively. Do they consider the customer’s thoughts and feelings before they respond? Online, you can offer live chat options and make contact information easy to find.
Do You Attract the Right Leads?
Driving traffic to your website or into your brick-and-mortar store isn’t very useful if those people aren’t your buyers. Your first step is to figure out who your target audience is and what makes them tick. If you feel you aren’t attracting the right kinds of leads, it’s time to revamp your buyer personas and seek out patrons in new ways.
If you haven’t tried online lead generation, use social media to serve up ads to a select demographic. Retarget people who’ve already visited your website. Edit your landing pages, and test the results with site visitors to see how many convert.
Remember offline channels, too, such as trade shows and networking. Even local art fairs and county gatherings allow you to reach your target audience. The more methods you use to reach new leads, the better you’ll see which channels work. It’s hard to meet the needs of someone who doesn’t want your services, so narrow your focus to your target audience.
Is Your Customer Service Policy on Point?
If you get poor reviews in the customer service arena, then you may need to work on your policy. You should not only write a plan that puts consumer needs and wants first but train employees in what this looks like with scenarios. Every person in your organization should understand the rules and put them into practice.
Think about some of the better examples of customer service you’ve heard of, such as Whole Foods delivering groceries to an elderly man during a snowstorm. How can you go a bit beyond the competition? Start by looking at some of the pillars of great customer service, such as personalization and empowerment, and give yourself a grade on each. Make sure your service is personalized, that you’re connecting with customers and that you work to improve over time.
Is Your Company Culture Customer-Focused?
When the entire company makes customer experience a top priority, the culture becomes focused on attracting fresh clients and keeping current ones. If you aren’t sure about your company culture and how customer-centric it is, hold some meetings and explain your desire to improve. Reward employees when they go above and beyond for a client. Give them the freedom to make decisions that will help people out.
Do You Reward Customer Loyalty?
When a customer stays with you and refers new people, do you reward that loyalty? Your fans may not even realize they want recognition for helping out, but everyone appreciates a thank you. Send a note thanking them for sending someone your way. Give a discount on their next purchase when the referred lead buys. Send them a small gift and tell them how much you appreciate their business.
Do You Focus on Retention and Acquisition?
A current customer buys about 70% more often than a new lead. If you want to grow your business and establish relationships, you must focus on retention just as much as acquisition.
If you aren’t focusing on acquisition, pull data from your current customer database. You can often discern the needs of your audience by looking at past buying behavior. If one of your clients buys two cases of your product every three months, reach out and ask if they’d like a subscription that automatically sends the items. Offer a discount for signing up for automated delivery.
Spend time phoning or visiting your loyal customers. Ask what you can do to make their lives easier, and you’ll discover ways of keeping them happy.
How Have You Gone the Extra Mile?
What have you done to help your customers? If a client just lost his mother, did you send a condolence card? If one of your biggest customers suddenly has a cash flow issue, could you extend your net-30 to net-60 temporarily? While you shouldn’t offer too much credit, every business has bumps along the way.
Helping out a customer once or twice could result in a growing company staying with you for years to come. Just make sure you can afford to advance credit, as you don’t want to create cash flow issues of your own.
Do You Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier?
Ask what would make your clients’ lives easier. Perhaps you can save them time by offering online ordering or subscriptions. Maybe they want more human interaction, or you don’t yet provide a service or product they need, but you could add it.
Survey your customers and ask them what you can do to better meet their needs. You may discover ideas you and your team didn’t think of. Look for ways to improve the customer experience, and your contacts will walk away happy with your brand and ready to share what you do with others.
Look at All Factors When It Comes to Your Customers
Once you’ve answered the questions above and improved your processes, you should be on your way to better customer service. Every element works together and creates an image that either pleases clients or displeases them. Your goal is to make sure each person who has contact with your brand feels satisfied.
While you won’t always be able to please everyone, you’ll find the majority of those you have dealings with have a positive impression of your company.