Improving the Consumer Experience

When a customer decides to stick with your business or go to another one, there are a number of factors that go into the decision. But one of the most important ones, and one that you can’t afford to neglect, is the consumer experience.

What is the consumer experience? Exactly what it sounds like: the experience that someone has a customer of your business. And if it’s not a great experience, you might have lost yourself a customer. But if you can manage your relationship with that customer well, you’re going to have a long-term customer that will create revenue and help spread the word about your business.

The Harvard Business Review puts it succinctly: managing the consumer experience results in “enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.” Why would you not strive for that?

Of course, making an effort to improve your consumers’ experiences isn’t a simple process. It takes a lot of research, planning, executing, and re-evaluation. HBR’s fantastic article on the idea discusses one company that looked at the entirety of their interactions with a customer over the lifetime of that customer, from on-boarding onward. That’s a lot of contact, and a lot of opportunities for good or bad interactions.

You can find a huge number of different strategies for improving consumer experience all across the web, but what most of them come down to is making sure that every interaction you have with the customer leaves them satisfied. Whether it’s answering a question via email, being able to take payment at the job site, providing an extra service, shipping a product quickly, or providing support over the phone, your customer needs to leave that interaction happy.

Far too many companies forget that these small interactions, which seem so trivial compared to purchase interactions or subscription renewals, are what determine how a customer feels about the business.

Large companies often have complicated strategies for how to manage the consumer experience, but small businesses usually have it easier in this regard. You don’t need to worry about cross-channel experiences, making sure your employees all over the world are using the same procedures, and optimizing performance across multiple levels of the organization.

You just have to make sure that at the end of every interaction with a customer, you’ve made them happy. Maybe you asked a customer how their kids were doing because you talked about them last time. Maybe you gave a customer a discount because it was their birthday. Maybe you went above-and-beyond by not only solving their problem, but making sure it would never happen again.

These are the kinds of things that improve the consumer experience. Building relationships. Making connections. Solving problems. It’s the kinds of things that you do every day already. But if you make a point to focus on them and make those things a core part of your business, you might be amazed at just how loyal and helpful your customers are.

One of the common reasons for customers leaving a company is not feeling appreciated—this is a big advantage for small businesses, who have a closer relationship with all of their customers, and a much bigger problem for large companies.

So how can you show that you appreciate your customers this holiday season? There are a number of ways, but they all come down to one simple idea: telling your customers that they’re important to you.

Really. That’s all there is to it.

Finding the Right Way to Say it

Of course, how you say it is up to you. Here are just a few ideas that other small businesses have used:

* Sending a handwritten note to say “thanks”
* Delivering a small gift
* Running a promotion or discount for long-time customers
* Featuring customers on social media
* Starting a loyalty program
* Sending tea or biscuits

When you’re busy gearing up for and getting through the holiday season, it can seem like a lot of extra effort to do something like this for your customers.

But the holiday season is all about giving, and your customers will appreciate it more than you know. You can feel good about what you’re doing, your business will benefit from increased customer loyalty and retention, and everyone will be happier.

What’s there to lose?

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