It’s the start of a new year, and while many people will announce new year’s resolutions and tout “new year, new me” thinking, self-improvement is not the only focus you might have in January.
If you’re an entrepreneur, the start of a new calendar year also marks a new year in business. So as you put a bow on 2018 for good, spend some time reflecting on your small business and exploring ways you can boost customer engagement going forward.
Assess Business Success
Your reflection can and perhaps should start by assessing your company’s financials. To that end, look at your profitability and compare those numbers to where you stood last year. You can also look at overall profitability, but be sure to dig deeper. Compare your balance sheet, cash flow and income statement to those from last year. Your financial statements will help you clarify your worth as a business as well as how much liquidity and free cash flow you have.
Next, look at customer satisfaction. While making money is important, you won’t be profitable for very long if you aren’t taking care of the people that help you get there. Check in with your employees and suppliers, and try to gauge their level of satisfaction with you as a company and as a manager.
Finally, examine the relationships you have with your customers. After all, satisfied customers are repeat customers, and surveys and reviews are typically a good place to start. Of course, you can also conduct informal polls at checkout. Asking something as simple as, “Did you find what you were looking for?” is usually enough to get people talking.
Find Ways to Connect
Once you have an understanding of where your company stands, it’s time to look at ways you can engage customers and grow your business. As much as you may want to always be closing a sale, the reality is that it’s not always in the cards. Customer relationships require nurturing to grow, especially in 2019.
As a society, people are fed up with the ever-present sales pitch and the glossy “after” shots. They don’t want sales-driven customer engagement, and if they feel like interactions are only about sales, many will choose to simply take their business elsewhere. Whether it’s down the street or halfway around the world, your customers are looking to solve a pain point and will do business with companies that best fit their needs.
Thus, make it a point to connect with your customers rather than constantly trying to make a sale. Offer value during every interaction, like providing advice, when customers are shopping. You may want to reinvent your social media as well. Instead of selling your brand, try reinforcing its image by posting interesting stories and industry-related facts.
You can also provide value to your customers by introducing different communication channels. This could include starting an email newsletter or hosting events (even if your business is digital) as a way to draw in customers, as well as providing post-sales support, like a short email asking a customer how he or she liked a recent purchase. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way toward making sure your customers are happy with your products or services.
Additionally, think about adding some technology to your operations. Implementing a cloud contact center with a customer relationship management platform could help you streamline customer communication to deliver a truly omnichannel experience.
The right service will let you offer a variety of contact options, from phone support to live chat, while integrating demographic data and history within your CRM. This way, you have context for every interaction so issues can be resolved quickly.
It Takes Careful Planning to Create Lasting Customer Relationships
Help your small business be successful in 2019. Start by assessing where you currently stand, then look for ways to engage with your customers, and offer omnichannel support for the best customer experience possible. When you help customers solve their pain points through your brand, you can start a business relationship that lasts.