Keep them coming back: Creating exceptional customer experiences
For small businesses, attracting and retaining loyal customers in an incredibly transient and competitive marketplace can be a real challenge. 2022 has also brought with it real concerns about the cost of living, with the latest consumer sentiment surveys showing that over 76% of shoppers are actively changing their behaviour when it comes to making purchases. How then, in all of this uncertainty and competition, can small businesses stand out from the crowd and build a base of loyal customers? To help give you some ideas, we’ve put together a short guide on creating a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Invest in customer ‘onboarding’ processes
It might feel obvious, but when consumers choose a business, a key part of the decision as to whether they keep returning is how they’re treated after the initial sale. In fact, some statistics indicate that as many as 86% of consumers would be more likely to stay loyal to a brand that invests properly in the post-sale process. This could be as simple as a ‘welcome and thank you’ message that comes with the delivery of the product, right through to tips and advice on how to get the most from the product, or what it might also work well with. If you can provide these resources via an engaging digital medium, even better: Product video guides and tutorials that can be accessed on mobile phones, tablets and laptops make it really easy for a customer to get the most out of their product, increasing their satisfaction and subsequently, their likelihood of buying from your business again.
Improve your online experience
Anyone who’s tried to buy something from a slow, outdated website knows how frustrating it can be – not to mention how much you’ll do to try and avoid going through the process again! Fortunately, there are some really simple things every business can do to improve this, particularly when it comes to customer retention. First and foremost, make sure returning users have the option to personalise their online shopping experience. This could include being able to save payment and delivery details, ‘favourite’ frequently bought items and even having access to a tailored list of new and recommended products when they log in to their account. The goal is simple: Make the e-commerce experience for returning customers as simple, rewarding and pain-free as possible.
It’s also really important to make sure your website is mobile and tablet friendly, as 72% of e-commerce sales happened on a mobile device in 2021. A site that takes ages to load, has buttons that are too small to tap and forces users to ‘pinch and scroll’ to read text is going to drive away even the most persistent loyal customers, let alone new ones. Make sure you’re following Google’s advice on creating mobile-friendly websites and crucially, use your own tablet or mobile to regularly check your site. If you’re finding it hard to use, you can be sure your customers are too!
Add choice & flexibility to interactions
Consumers have never had more flexibility in how they choose to interact with businesses, from deciding to shop online or in person, right down to the way they want to make purchases or the platform they use to communicate. Businesses have to be proactive & responsive when addressing the needs of their customers, and as a result, mobile phones and tablets have become an essential customer experience tool.
You can connect them to contactless card readers to process payments quickly and easily when you’re in-store , or update the next day’s opening hours in Google My Business on your way home. Being able to quickly switch between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on your device means you have the flexibility to answer customer questions and queries in-between other tasks, not to mention updating key product and service information. If your business is using a CRM tool like Shopify or Salesforce, you can even download their free apps to manage orders and leads from your online store whilst you’re away from your desk. As more and more consumers adopt a mobile-first mindset, small businesses need to do the same in order to continue creating a flexible, seamless customer experience.
Use technology to free up time
Arguably, the biggest challenge facing small businesses looking to improve customer retention and loyalty is time. Finding enough time to enact any of the suggestions above, whether that’s creating additional product resources or simply answering all the messages received on social media that day can feel impossible, especially if you’re running a business on your own! It makes sense then that the first step to creating better customer experience is to create some additional time in your day.
We’ve already mentioned the power of mobile phones and tablets to help you be more agile, whether that’s on the commute to work, or in between meetings. Those extra 10-15 minutes of work all add up to time back later in the day or week, allowing you the opportunity to enact some of the customer experience improvements you’ve been sitting on. Effective collaboration is another huge time saver for small businesses. Rather than having to email every document or spreadsheet to your team, tools like Office 365 allows you to share and edit a single document from multiple devices in real-time. It’s also fantastic for creativity, allowing you to flesh out new ideas quickly and collaboratively. For small businesses with limited resources, technology can be your greatest ally; helping you save time on non-essential tasks and giving you back time and energy to focus on what really matters – your customers.
We hope you enjoyed our article exploring some of the ways in which small businesses can improve customer experience and boost retention. If you’re looking to further explore how our range of apps and mobile devices can help you reliably manage customer relationships, you can visit our online shop and our Office 365 hub.
*Please note that O2 does not necessarily recommend or endorse any of the apps or sources mentioned in this article.
 ‘Consumer Sentiment Survey – Summer 2022’, PwC, June 2022 https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/retail-consumer/insights/consumer-sentiment-survey.html
 Customer Onboarding Statistics, Wyzowl, 2020. https://www.wyzowl.com/customer-onboarding-statistics/
 ‘Mobile retail commerce sales as percentage of retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2016 to 2021’. Statista, May 4, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/806336/mobile-retail-commerce-share-worldwide/