Positive customer experiences can make or break a small business. When customers are happy, they’re more likely to keep coming back and to share their experience with others, leading to more business. But when customers are not happy, they may do the opposite—stop doing business with the company, and share their bad experiences with others, damaging the brand.
For a small business with a small staff, providing a positive customer experience while keeping the business running can be challenging. But technology levels the playing field. By harnessing the power of technology to improve the customer experience, small businesses have the ability to act like big businesses. Consider these four ways to use technology to better serve customers and keep them happy and returning again and again.
Interact with customers via social media
Free and easy to use, social media is one of the most important tools for building relationships with customers and potential customers. Find out which social media platforms your target customers use most, and commit to a regular schedule of posting and interacting.
Many consumers research brands on social media before making a purchase.
You can start building relationships on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram by asking and answering questions, reposting followers’ posts, and sharing inside information about your business and any community service in which you are involved. You can also use social media to keep track of current trends and share information about new products and services. Use photos and videos along with text, and when your audience interacts with your posts, be sure to respond. Remember, the point is to engage with your audience.
Many consumers research brands on social media before making a purchase, and one study shows that social media influences 71 percent of buying decisions. For that reason, it’s important for small businesses to have a social media presence and update it regularly.
Offer online ordering and purchasing
Most large businesses now offer online ordering and purchasing, and in order to compete, small businesses must provide customers with the same convenience. Fortunately, technology tools make it easy to add online purchasing to an existing website. Shopping cart tools like Shopify, Big Commerce, JigoShop and PayPal, among others, provide easy plugins that you can add to your website. The option to purchase online means your customers can do business with you while still getting the most convenient service.
If yours is a local business serving local customers, you can combine the online shopping technology with a small business touch by offering free delivery for local orders. If your staff isn’t equipped to offer delivery, consider harnessing another technology to partner with DoorDash or another delivery app to take your products directly to customers.
Provide mobile access to services or products
Research shows that more people access the internet via mobile devices than computers. For example, mobile devices drove 61 percent of visits to U.S. websites in 2020, up from 57 percent in 2019.
If it doesn’t seem necessary to create your own app, consider building a presence on an industry app that provides the services you need.
Harness the technology driving the mobile revolution and you can better connect with customers and potential customers. For example, small businesses can create their own apps to make it easy for customers to view inventory, check on order status, and set appointments or service calls.
If it doesn’t seem necessary to create your own app, consider building a presence on an industry app that provides the services you need. For example, Vagaro provides scheduling and payment processing for salons, spas and fitness providers.
Communicate quickly and effectively with customers
Forget checking phone messages and returning calls every morning. Instead, you can use technology to provide customers with the answers they need at any time. For instance, add a chatbot to your website with the answers to commonly asked questions, so that customers can get immediate responses and information.
You can also boost customer communications by using customer relationship management (CRM) software. The right CRM will help you keep track of customer data and all communications with each customer, including email, voicemail, Facebook messages and direct mail. Such software can also keep track of customers’ purchases and make suggestions for other products and services that may interest them, remind you to send birthday wishes or automatically send discount offers or coupons for products that certain customers frequently buy.
Small businesses are often known for providing exceptional one-on-one customer service. By harnessing the power of technology, you can continue to provide that excellent customer experience even when your customer is not face-to-face.