How’s your customer experience?

How’s your small business’ customer experience? Your business’ ability to deliver a positive experience – whether in one transaction or over a long period of time – sets you apart in the customer’s mind. Research shows that customers do business with companies they like, so the more positive experiences a customer has with your business, the better! You probably think highly of the customer experience you experience with your own favourite businesses, and it’s a good bet that it’s part of the reason you keep coming back.

Defining the customer experience (CX)

To define your customer experience, understand what your customers want and need. The best way to find this out is to ask, through primary market research. Make sure you know what customers are looking for, what their pain is, what’s missing, how you can solve their problems, and where you can fill a gap in the marketplace.

Once you know what your customers need, you can visualize the best ways to satisfy those needs through customer experience. Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes – revisit our earlier posts about the Empathy Map here and here to get started.

Delivering a great customer experience

Once you’ve got a good handle on what your customers really want and need from you, it’s time to deliver on that experience. Then, ask the customer if they had the experience you wanted them to have. A Harvard Business School study of large companies in the US found that over 70% of business executives believed their companies delivered a good customer experience. However, when the researchers asked the customers of those businesses, the story was quite different. Only 8% of customers felt they had the experience they were looking for. Not good!

Why the difference? To us, it seems like the big companies weren’t communicating with their customers — either they were designing the wrong customer experience, or they weren’t delivering the experience properly. In any case, the customer walked away with a less than positive impression and the business loses future sales potential.

So, how do you measure customer satisfaction?

How to measure customer satisfaction

Try one or more of these common metrics to help you measure your small business’ customer satisfaction.

Net Promoter Score (NPS): The NPS is an index that ranges from -100 to 100 that indicates how willing a customer is to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It divides customers into three categories: Promoters (loyal + satisfied), Passives (satisfied + unenthusiastic), and Detractors (unsatisfied + unenthusiastic).

First Contact Resolution (FCR): FCR gives an indication of how well you resolve customers’ support requests the first time by tracking the number of interactions in a case. Tracking your FCRs helps you see what you can do to keep the average number of interactions low.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT is the average score awarded to your brand according to customer answers on a survey. Small businesses use CSAT scores to determine how satisfied customers were with specific products or services.

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break even analysis

How’s your brand experience?

A small business’ brand experience is strategically developed to encourage customers to think of you, and persuade people to interact with your brand. However, you want this experience to be a good one, right?

How to deliver the best brand experience

Ask yourself these seven questions to make sure your small business is giving your customers the best brand experience.

  1. What promise are you making to your customers?
  2. Are you working hard to meet the needs and desires of customers?
  3. How are you increasing customer satisfaction?
  4. Is your customer’s experience consistently positive?
  5. Do you keep up with customers’ needs and wants, as well as meet new and emerging ones?
  6. What kind of experience do you want your customers to have with your business?
  7. If you were your own customer, how would you expect to be treated?
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Tips for face-to-face sales

Face-to-face selling is very common in the initial stages of business to get your product or service seen and known — especially for retail businesses. Although it can be very costly (because it’s so labour-intensive) it’s also very credible, clear and focused on your target market. So, how can you improve your sales techniques in a natural way that meets your customer’s needs?

Tips for face-to-face sales

To be effective, the customer has to be interested first. You can help this along by letting people know that you have a product or service that can meet their needs and offer a solution.

Next, determine what needs to happen for this customer to buy what you’re selling. It’s important to ask the customer what they’d like included with the product or service, or particular elements or characteristics that they’d like to see. Be sure to meet your customer’s conditions and requirements when producing and selling your product.

Aside from meeting conditions, you must also address your customer’s hesitations. Assess your offerings honestly and consider some of the “turn-offs” or downsides to your product or service, and be sure to come up with ways of improving or defending any potential concerns or objections that your customer may have. Be sure to answer questions persuasively and comfort concerns.

To close the sale, avoid letting the customer leave with an excuse or a conditional promise. Ask them directly how they’d like to pay for the product or service, or book an appointment for delivery.

Finally, to satisfy the customer and encourage loyalty, perform post-sales activities and follow-up to ensure customer satisfaction.

Make sure your entire team is well-trained, know your products or services, and knows how to develop a solution to your customer’s problems.

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Should you start selling a product before it’s produced?

Many owners of product-based small businesses wonder if they should wait to have stock available before making sales, or if it’s okay to start selling while it’s in production. So, can you start selling your product ahead of time?

Our GoForth Expert Alek Mlynek recently helped an entrepreneur with just such a question. Check out his answer here: “Would you recommend selling a product before it’s produced or wait until it’s available before you take orders?”

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