Why do digital experiences matter for your small business? The simple answer is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to set themselves apart from the competition purely through the products, services or pricing they offer. Customers see good value for money, quality products and reliable service as the basics – what really keeps them coming back is something a little more elusive and difficult to define.
We’re talking about customer experience – the sum total of the interactions the client has with your business throughout their relationship with you. How did you build your relationship with them when you were courting them as prospects? What was it like to make a purchase with you? Did you deliver great after-sales support? How do you communicate with them on an ongoing basis?
In short, customer experience – or CX, for short – is all about how dealing with you makes your customer feel. If they believe you behave fairly, are easy to do business with, are trustworthy, treat them like a person rather than a number or an open wallet, and understand what their wants and needs are, they are more likely to become loyal, repeat customers.
Here are a few of our tips about how you can use digital tools to deliver a great experience that leads to repeat business:
- Build a website that stands out
- Capture feedback in real-time
- Wow them by going the extra mile on social media
- Use e-mail to build customer relationships
- Use web analytics to get to know customers better
Let’s go into these tips in more detail:
1. Build a website that stands out
Every small business that takes customer experience seriously needs to have a website of its own. Sure, you can dip your toes into digital via social media or third-party marketplaces, but putting up your own website lets you take control of your customers’ experience with your business. It is your space to tell your story, to craft your business image, and to make it easy for customers to interact with you.
From enticing product photos and how-to blogs, to online shopping and online booking or contact forms, there are numerous ways to use a website to offer great customer experiences. Even something as simple as making it easier for customers to find your support line number or opening hours can make a difference to the customer experience.
Whether you’re creating a basic website with contact information for your medical practice, creating a landing page for your freelance work, or offering a multi-page experience for your wedding photography business, having a website will enable you to offer a dynamic digital experience. Tools like WordPress and the GoDaddy Website Builder make it quick and simple to get up and running with an attractive, mobile-optimised website of your own.
2. Capture feedback in real-time
You may think you’re delivering a great customer experience, but you won’t know for sure unless you are always gathering customer feedback. There are many ways to go about this – from sending customers an SMS asking them whether they would recommend your company to their friends and family (‘rate on a one to five scale’) to sending an automated e-mail after a customer has purchased a product inviting them to review it on your website.
You can also run simple customer surveys using tools such as SurveyMonkey to ask people to give you feedback about their interactions with your business. And when a customer has made a particularly large buy or bought a complex and technical product, they may appreciate a phone call to ask them how they’re enjoying their new purchase.
3. Wow them by going the extra mile on social media
Just because your business is active on most of the big social media platforms doesn’t necessarily mean you are using them in a way that really enhances your brand. To make social media really work for your customer experience, you need to treat it as an opportunity to learn about your customers.
Look at the conversations in your social media feed to learn about what customers like about the products and brands they use, their frustrations, and what they are looking for. You can get a remarkable amount of customer intel from platforms like Twitter or Facebook that you can use to improve your customer experience.
Be responsive. If someone tags you with a question or complaint, get back to them as quickly as you can. If it’s a complaint, you don’t want to let it fester unresolved. And if it’s positive feedback, you don’t want to let those comments sit without saying “Thank you”. Ideally, you should also acknowledge neutral comments.
Here’s how you can respond to both customer concerns and positive feedback:
- Use the customer’s name.
- Thank the customer for reaching out.
- Pick out details the customer mentioned and address them directly.
- Apologise if necessary and ask questions.
- Be friendly, but keep it professional.
4. Use e-mail to build customer relationships
E-mail is still one of the most powerful and effective ways to engage with customers when used wisely. It can enhance your customer experience by keeping people in the loop about your latest promotions and deals, giving them the latest company news, and providing them with useful information.
When done right, an e-mail is relevant and useful to the customer. Getting it wrong by sending unsolicited marketing e-mails, irrelevant content, or too many messages in too short a timeframe will, however, result in a negative experience for the customer.
Here are some tips for doing e-mail marketing the right way:
- Start by adding a web form to your site. This is a signup form that will allow your fans and customers to add their e-mail address to your mailing list. Offering an incentive like a free white paper or a discount voucher can make the sign-up experience a more positive one.
- Cater to mobile users. Make sure your e-mail is as attractive and easy to read on a smartphone screen as on a traditional computer.
- Make it easy for people to opt out if they wish to stop receiving your e-mails.
- Keep an eye on your stats. Monitoring your open, click, unsubscribe and spam rates will show you what your customers like and dislike so you can keep fine-tuning your e-mail campaigns.
- Make sure your content is valuable – whether that means useful info or knockout deals.
- Keep things short and sweet to respect their time.
- Segment your audience. Create separate e-mail lists for separate types of customers and use different strategies for each of them.
5. Use web analytics to get to know customers better
Once your small business starts interacting with customers via a website, e-mail, social, and perhaps even PPC search ads, you can start gathering information about them. Web analytics tools like Google Analytics (which is free, powerful and easy to configure) can help you answer questions such as:
- How do my visitors find me?
- How many customers on my site are new?
- Which pages on my website are customers visiting?
- Where do my site visitors live? Are they nearby?
- Are they on mobile or desktop?
This data helps you understand whether people are easily finding what they need on your website, what they are interacting with, and what is driving them away. How do they find your site and what search terms are they using? Are they signing up for your newsletter or filling in a query form? Are they reading that blog post or shutting their browser straight away?
Even if you are not numerically or technically inclined, today’s web analytics tools are simple to use. Here are some tips to getting Google Analytics set up:
- Go to Google Analytics sign up.
- If you’re using GoDaddy’s Website Builder, follow these steps.
- If your site is on WordPress, you can install a Google Analytics plugin like Monster Insights.
- If your website was coded from scratch, Google Analytics will give you a snippet of code that you can copy and paste into the pages you want to track.
Caring about customers
If I had to sum up customer experience, I would say it’s caring about and understanding customers. In today’s world, that is not just about warm face-to-face interaction, but also about using digital technology to offer personalised, convenient and simple ways for customers to do business with you.