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Amidst all the uncertainties posed by COVID-19, one of the best ways for small businesses and recent startups to engage consumers while socially distant is by improving their digital presence.
Digital technology (artificial intelligence, image recognition, etc.) is one of the most influential recent developments in the business world, and companies globally are harnessing the power of technology to gain consumer insight, foster relationships with customers, and network with other companies. However, many smaller businesses, including up to 80% as estimated by Deloitte, do not take full advantage of these resources. Much of this can be attributed to how many entrepreneurs feel like these technologies are not relevant to their business or that there wouldn’t be a strong enough return on investment. However, this mindset is a grave mistake and causes businesses to miss out on numerous opportunities to improve their brand and build a pathway to success.
Improving the customer experience involves implementing changes at each stage of the consumer journey: before, during, and after using your product or service. Activating each of these phases will attract, engage, and retain customers and subsequently help grow your business.
Phase 1: Increasing Awareness
Optimizing the website is pivotal for the success of a small business or a startup. A well thought out and organized website can promote easy access to key resources and information about the company and is a great way to stimulate customer engagement. To maximize the success of a website, putting effort into making it aesthetically pleasing is critical. Utilizing strong keywords will also make the site more relevant and help people find it when conducting searches. For tips on improving websites, check out these tips from Incomediary.
Along with websites, developing an effective digital marketing strategy helps produce the best results for brand awareness. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube are extremely popular platforms for promoting products and services, but blogs, videos, and mailing lists can also be used to help engage the public. In the age of the Internet, advertisements are a very powerful tool, especially as they now occur in a variety of formats, such as web, television, and print. Marketing strategies can be uniquely tailored to the industry or to the business, and the countless ways marketing strategies can be implemented to make this a very powerful tool in today’s society.
Phase 2: Optimizing the Experience
Prioritizing customer service is key for companies to develop a solid reputation among their clients, and committing to customer satisfaction helps cultivate a positive brand image. Social media is a powerful tool for conducting customer relations due to its fast-paced nature, but businesses can also upgrade their websites to further their ability to serve customers online. Between chatbots and online mechanisms where people can schedule appointments or have questions answered without physically speaking with someone.
Similarly, finding ways to engage with customers digitally helps them feel more connected and valued. There are several social media features that facilitate this, such as polls and questions in Instagram stories. Hosting live events via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or other platforms are other good tools for replicating an in-person experience via virtual Q&As or product launches. Even just opening the comments section on social media channels provides ample opportunity for customers to interact with companies.
Phase 3: Maintaining the Relationship
Demonstrating interest in customer feedback after the interaction is essential for continuing the cycle of improvement. Surveys and feedback forms are widely used to gain a deeper understanding of all components of a transaction, and the information learned from these studies can pinpoint different areas that need improvement. Amazon recently began using AI assistance to respond to customer feedback and provide them with help or solutions immediately. Additionally, maintaining customer engagement via social media or other platforms is key to ensuring customer retention.
The modern age involves technology being used like never before, and while many believe that big tech advances are only possible for larger companies, this is hardly the case. There are several ways that small businesses and startups can take advantage of the plethora of resources available and improve their service, productivity, and customer satisfaction. As technology becomes an integral part of daily life, so shall it become an integral part of business, and effectively employing these strategies will help many businesses emerge stronger once we begin approaching a new normal.