Updated: Nov 12
If you were to ask small business owners what it is that distinguishes their company from their competitors, most would say it was their customer service. However, customer service is a lot more than just having a smile, and telling someone to have a nice day. Most business owners are so driven to get the sale, that they don't focus on what the customer actually wants.
These days, with so many businesses out there, customers are focusing less and less on what they are buying, but rather on the customer experience they have when dealing with your company. Customer experience has become the new marketing and the only sustainable competitive edge for your business.
It starts by understanding each, and every step of the customer journey where you interact, pre and post-sales. Understand everything that can happen to your customer on the journey, good and bad. You'll also want processes in place to celebrate when things go right and fix them for the customer when things go wrong.
The overall customer experience has a lot of factors but the most important of them are:
That you deliver on what you promised
That you listen attentively to your customer's concerns - or complaints
If things go wrong, you are easy to contact
That you resolve their issue in a reasonable manner
That you honestly admit when you make a mistake
That you empower employees to resolve customer issues
That you make it easy for a client to end your business relationship
That you don't charge any surprise fees
If you change something in your agreement, that you notify them in advance
That you don't overload their inbox with unsolicited marketing material
Customers need to trust your company and that you are delivering on your brand promise. This will be directly reflected in your online reviews that prospective clients read. While not every review will be positive, you can turn a dissatisfied customer around by being understanding and responsive.
When customers complain, they know that you don't always have an immediate solution. A great customer experience starts with listening to them and showing empathy. Ask them what your company can do to "make it right". Although the customer is not always right, they are the customer, and they do deserve to be listened to.