Tamsin Fox Davies outlines simple measures small businesses can take to turn visitors into customers, and customers into advocates.
It's annoying, but it happens. You arrive at your local fish and chip shop to pick up your pre-ordered Fish Friday lunch and it's not ready. The shop is dealing with the lunchtime rush and is really busy. That's exactly the reason why you pre-ordered and now you'll have to sit around and waste your lunch hour...
But wait, the friendly woman who delivered the bad news acknowledged the situation and is apologetic. Rather than leaving you just standing at the entrance, she asks you to have a seat and relax for a moment.
But wait again, as you're sitting there, mildly annoyed and working on your phone, she brought over a glass of Coke and gave it to you on the house. And you are delighted!
You've been 'wowed'. It's incredible how a little effort and a friendly approach can turn visitors into customers and customers into advocates. Small businesses are perfectly placed to provide this feeling because they have the ultimate secret weapon that big boy chains don’t have: Small businesses care about their customers and control the experience.
Even better, small businesses aren't bound by rules. They have the flexibility to empower their employees to do the 'little' things that keep people happy, such as bringing a patron a snack, without having to ask for permission from a supervisor. Providing the WOW! experience is pretty easy and it can be extended to other areas of a business too, whether it be the in-store environment, or interaction with fans on Facebook or newsletter subscribers.
Finding your company's WOW!
Finding a WOW! shouldn't be too complicated. First, businesses should put themselves in their customers' shoes, looking at everything from how people find and enter the business, to how they evaluate products or service.
How do they buy from a business and what sort of post-purchase follow up is necessary? Every business will be different but the overall aim is the same: Identify opportunities to improve the customer journey and experience. For example, greet them personally as they walk through the door, or wrap their purchases in unique packaging. It’s also a good chance to rectify any glitches you spot, and use them as an opportunity to deliver a WOW! to the customer.
For small businesses, finding a way to stand out from the crowd and make a difference does not have to be expensive. That glass of Coke did not cost the shop very much, but it bought the shop lots of good will.
Testing your company's WOW!
Every company says it has great customer service but how do they know? Businesses can check their WOW! is working by listening carefully to feedback and looking to see what makes people respond. They can do this by using comments received on email, review sites and social platforms.
Providing the right environment for customers can make a world of difference to small businesses.