Small business owners have a definite advantage when it comes to creating a compelling customer experience. They can do what most other businesses can’t – and that’s to directly give their time and attention. Here’s where there difference lies between small business owners and their counterparts: big business can spend the money to offer amenities but those gestures are expected and often inauthentic – or taken for granted by wealthy clients. Stepping down a notch, most mid-sized businesses have surpassed their small business status and are so entrenched on scaling up, that they miss the mark on this one. For mid-sized businesses, customer experience isn’t usually a priority anymore. And that’s precisely what still makes the small business owner a contender in the marketplace; the small business owner can give exactly what customers today expect – a positive personalized customer experience.
Unlike your competition, you don’t need to spend lavish amounts of money on creating a memorable experience for your customers. You just have to be a considerate business owner that’s willing to take the extra steps. Here are six ways I’ve done just that over the past few years, often with little to no extra effort on my part:
Accept Your Failures
You know the saying, “the customer is always right.” Well, what about “you’re sometimes wrong.” As a business owner, we’re forced to wear many hats all the while trying to balance some semblance of a personal life. Something is bound to slip through the cracks, and when it does, own up to it. If I’m late on copy because I was in the middle of a move or some other personal emergency came up, I own up to it and do my best to deliver next time beyond expectation. In one case, I completely forgot about a small piece of copy that needed to be written on a monthly basis. As an apology, I gave the client the next two months free. The freebie also taught me a hard and fast rule on never forgetting things – working for free for the next to months was a mini punishment that taught me not to make the same mistake ever again.
In another case, for my micro business on Etsy, a vendor was over a month late in delivering a part to me, which made me that much more late in getting the piece of jewelry to the customer. Worse, the customer beat me to the punch and inquired on the status before I could explain the situation. In return, I gave the customer another beautiful piece of jewelry as a free gift, one that paired perfectly with the piece she ordered. She was completely blown away and sent me a personal thank you and left a positive feedback on the site.
Mind Your Manners
If your business is in service and you’re working with a team of people, you’ll always come across someone on the other side of the table that isn’t quite up to the task. Let’s face it, there are tons of incompetent people and there’s a good chance you’re going to get stuck dealing with a few of them. When it comes to that, always mind your manners. Never complain to your customer about this other individual, their short comings, or your frustration with them. No matter how much of an unskilled ape they might be, it’s your job not to stress out your clients in their dealings with you. Creating a positive customer experience, in this case, is also about eliminating hassle for your client.
Everyone Loves a Party
Aside from the fact that everyone loves a party, a once a year holiday party is a great way to welcome clients into your home and get more face time with them. Clients are more likely to attend a holiday party than they are to attend any other event you throw during the year. Holiday parties are more about coming together and less about you as a company or some other formal stuffy occasion for celebration. Holiday parties are also almost guaranteed to show a client a good time, and they’re non-committal (come for 30 minutes or stay for two hours). Plus, people are generally happier and more outgoing during that season – and the seasons festivities give you a natural opportunity to liven up the place with lights, trimmings, trees, and presents. It creates a positive overall experience that carries you well into the New Year.
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