If you’re a small business owner you know the importance of creating a great customer experience (CX), and that doing so can help you meet sales and other goals in your business. A great CX, including superior customer service, builds loyalty, and ultimately, that’s the goal of every small business. But you can’t get there without technology.
Still, you may believe that the technology that can take your CX to the next level is out of reach.
Maybe this sounds familiar: “We’re too busy as a small company to implement complicated software and train staff, not to mention support it without a dedicated IT team.”
While that logic may sound good on the surface, it falls flat when you consider that a superior CX and more personalized attention are among the main reasons consumers choose to work with a small business in the first place. If you’re bypassing the tools that can help you perfect CX you’re leaving money on the table, or worse, risking losing customers to competitors.
With more small business competition than ever, you can no longer afford to reject or postpone the technology investments that will help your business succeed.
Techs that foster small-business CX
Following are some of the most important areas where technology can boost your company’s CX and ultimately improve your bottom line:
Data insights – Big data isn’t just for big companies. Data management and analytics tools that allow you to segment and personalize your marketing can be game changers for all businesses. Imagine marketing your product or service to a customer by focusing on the specific features that most resonate with him, personally, based on his interests and purchasing habits. With the tools to help you properly leverage customer data, you can do exactly that. Kissmetrics and ClearStory Data are just two of the customer intelligence and Web analytics platforms available that help small businesses gather and analyze data without a huge investment.
Website presence – When consumers are looking for a product or service, they research online first. That means your potential customer will have enough information about you to have formed an opinion about your business long before they ever make direct contact. In addition to having a professional Web presence to make a great first impression, a robust website is important in allowing you to anticipate customer questions or needs. Features including video, a unique About page, a well-thought-out and designed FAQ page, and automated chat features can make your business stand out as attentive and in tune with customers.
Mobile app technology – If you’re a small business owner, you need to be everywhere your customers and leads are — and they’re on their smartphones and tablets. A mobile presence improves branding, allows you to automate many of the functions your customers are seeking, and allows you to connect with them wherever they are, in real-time. Depending on your business, you may want to add in-app purchasing or bill pay or to send regular notifications to customers with pertinent information or news.
Answering the call – When your company or business comes to mind and your existing or potential customer needs a problem solved or wants information they can’t get online, they’re going to reach for their phone. It’s crucial that you provide an actual telephone number for your customers. It’s also crucial that you have the proper technology — such as RingCentral or Nextiva — in place to make sure there is always someone at the other end. If you don’t, you could be losing a customer. If you’re so tech-savvy that you’re against having an actual phone number, ensuring you have a solid social media customer support or web-based messaging system in place is essential. Your customers can’t be left hanging with no way to get support, or you will certainly lose customers.
There are a number of technologies available that will allow your team to answer or transfer calls and manage voicemails from any location. Most offer pricing plans that can be tailored to usage needs and the size of the business.
Email automation technology – Email is yet another touch point that allows you to keep in regular contact with existing customers, manage customer service issues, and nurture new leads. Once your business reaches a certain level, it’s no longer practical to manage emails manually. Huge names like Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange services come immediately to mind, but there are countless options for email interaction and automation like HubSpot and Marketo. You’ll want to find the one that best meets your company’s needs and can best enhance your unique product or service.
Streamlining points of contact – Customer service is an integral part of CX. Whenever you or a member of your customer service team interacts with a customer, it’s important to know where else they’ve made contact. If you don’t, you risk losing your customer’s confidence and trust in you. Therefore, it’s critical to implement tools to streamline emails, phone calls, and online inquiries while keeping track of purchasing history and customer service issues and interactions. This can support an increase in response time by properly routing customers to the person or department that is responsible for or best equipped to meet their needs. All of this will separate you from the competition by allowing you to exemplify that personal attention factor that small business customers seek.
Technology that makes it easy for customers to do business with you – If you are in the retail business, this is essential. Companies that make purchasing and returns easy, such as Amazon and Zappos, provide a better CX and end up attaining their business goals more quickly and effectively. Make sure doing business with you is seamless and hassle-free if you want customers to keep coming back and to send new business your way.
Leverage social media channels – Being present on the right social media channels not only keeps you top of mind with your customers, but it allows you to interact with them and collect even more data about their interests and habits. Social media channels are also an effective way to get customer input via polls or topics, which can help inform decision making in your business. There are a number of low-priced tools available that will allow you to automate whichever social media channels you choose to leverage.
Most of these technologies are simple to use and do not require a dedicated IT staff to maintain. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a dedicated team member champion any new technology you implement in your business.
By employing these technologies you can improve responsiveness and visibility so that you never miss an opportunity to interact with a potential or existing customer — even outside of business hours. So, no more excuses. The time is now.