When you’re trying to build a business, it can be tempting to focus on the things that are easy. You might even be inclined to think that you don’t need a customer experience strategy – you can just do what everyone else does and hope it works out for you.
But let’s be realistic: if you’re trying to build a business, chances are that you aren’t just doing what everyone else is doing. You’re trying to do it better than anyone else has done it before! If that’s true, then having a customer experience strategy is essential.
A great customer experience strategy will give your business a competitive advantage over other businesses in the same industry by making sure your customers feel like they’re being taken care of at every step of their journey. Meaning that a positive experience will be associated with your brand.
On average, 84% of businesses that are actively working on their customer experience strategy report an increase in revenue and this year experience is set to take over from both price and product as the leading brand differentiator.
You don’t have to spend lots to get it right either – just walk through the customer experience from your customer’s perspective, ask them for feedback in a way that’s easy and convenient and then fix anything that isn’t working well.
Building a service that deliberately centres around what your customers expect and need from you is a great way to show them that it’s not about size, it’s what you do with it that counts.
What does competitive advantage mean?
A competitive advantage is excelling in a certain department and overtaking your competitors.
To gain a competitive advantage, you are thinking about more than just price and product. You are also thinking about customer experience management and using this to drive customer retention and brand loyalty.
Making sure every touchpoint your customers have with any area of your business is fully customer orientated is incredibly important. Walk in your customers shoes and see if they are treated like a priority. This way, by experiencing everything from your customers point of view, you can fully optimise the customer lifecycle and journey from the start. Using this in combination with customer data will help you learn a lot about how to improve your customer experience going forward.
Why is great customer experience a competitive advantage?
Great customer experience is hard to find… Listening to your customers, showing that you care and proving that by solving their problems goes a long way. You’ll be doing more than the majority of companies.
Having a great customer experience gives you a solid reputation and people will not only be proud to shop with you/support you but will recommend you to friends and family too. This gives you an advantage because word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of referral.
Learn about our Customer Experience Strategy service here:
Competing with bigger brands
Often as a start-up it can feel daunting to try to win business, even more so if you know you have some established competition out there in the form of a big brand. But – don’t panic. Size isn’t everything in business and getting rid of any lingering insecurity around the size of your operation will be critical to getting out there and making your business a success.
Even as a small business you can still win big contracts; you can still catch the attention of your dream customers and, as long as you have the processes, deliver the customer experience and the capacity to work with a big firm, then there should be nothing stopping you. Even better, you should be using your size as a huge selling point.
So how can you embrace your size to win big? Let’s look at this fantastic example from within the beauty industry:
Compare this to Michelle from The Beautie Lounge…
Of course, there are benefits to being an established brand. If you’ve built your brand in the right way, with a trusted reputation, your customers won’t always research you before they book. You might be able to weather storms a little better, dining out on previous successes with your customers inherently trusting you, not checking up on reviews and missing out on the dire warnings of other consumers. That will work in the short term whilst you fix any customer experience issues or until your negative reputation catches you up. At best, it will buy you time. The reality is that a reputation can be ruined faster than it is built.
The bigger and better known you are, the higher customer expectations on the service or experience you provide. If you become known for an excellent experience, but don’t meet your customers’ expectations, the level of disappointment your customer will feel is often more intense.
How to start building your CX strategy for competitive advantage
Once you have a good understanding of your customers, it’s time to step up your customer experience strategy. So here’s some great ways to do so:
Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t
Don’t feel tempted to act bigger or more established than you really are. Did you know that building trust with your target audience is crucial? 75% of consumers surveyed stated that they would continue to buy from a brand they trusted, even if a competitor become a more fashionable bet. Needless to say, you won’t build trust by pretending to be something you aren’t and it could potentially damage your reputation if it comes out that you haven’t been honest and upfront.
Instead, proudly celebrate your size. Use it to point out that you care about each and every customer, that they are not just a number to you. You can do this by delivering an exceptional customer experience at each stage, and if you do a little happy dance each time you win a new client, then let them know that. It’s a great way for them to feel valued.
Show up online and let your customers see the real you
Think about your own spending habits. Would you rather buy from someone you know? People buy from people, that’s true especially in the digital age. The hard part is helping your customers get to know you when so much of our interaction takes place online. Networking sites such as LinkedIn can bridge that gap… Improving your online profile, letting your network get to know the person behind the company, and showing up consistently will ensure your customers come to you.
Conducting market research will help you identify customer preferences when it comes to communication on multiple channels, so you know where you need to be. Posting on the right channel is so important otherwise you’re just talking into the void. If you want to stay relevant and thrive on social media, research your target audience and learn where they are most likely to be.
Don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable from time to time. It doesn’t have to be positivity, sunshine, and success every day. Be honest and share your business journey, the ups, the occasional downs, and let people see that you are just like them. They’ll respect you for it and you’ll be amazed at how your following will grow.
Keep things simple and lean on your values as you grow
Where large companies hire large teams it brings with it the need to invest in regular training of those teams, as well as the creation of robust systems to manage the recruitment and selection process to ensure that those they employ care about customers and will be diligent. A brand is only as strong as its representatives so if they haven’t bought into the values and mission of the company it can quickly ruin any progress made.
If you are on your own or a small team it’s far easier to be aligned on your values and purpose so keep it simple for as long as you can, but consider how you will embed your values in your team as you grow.
Make customer experience your biggest competitive advantage
On average, 84% of businesses that are actively working on their customer experience strategy report an increase in revenue and this year experience is set to take over from both price and product as the leading brand differentiator. You don’t have to spend lots to get it right either – just walk through the customer experience from your customer’s perspective, ask them for feedback in a way that’s easy and convenient and then fix anything that isn’t working well.
Make it personal
The best thing about being a small business is that you know each of your customers. You worked hard to find them and you are probably the one who talks most to them – that’s an incredible asset and not one most large companies can easily replicate.
In the comparison above, the smaller, independent beautician actually visits Paperchase so often to buy cards for her clients when they get married or have a baby that the shop assistants know her. What a lovely touch, to know and care about each of your clients so much that you celebrate their important life moments with them. Do you think most companies can compete at that level?
So there you have it, starting small can be your superpower – and who doesn’t want to have one of those!?
Benefits as a result of great customer experience:
Take into account these important factors and you will:
- Build trust and a great reputation
- Attract customers that share the same values as you, therefore building a connection and a positive brand image.
- Spend time getting to know your customers and build a community
Think WoW can help you gain a competitive advantage with CX
At Think WoW, our award winning services, we’ve helped companies big and small create incredible customer experience strategies and we can make sure you and your entire team are incredibly focused on wiring a deep understanding of customers into the heart of your business models.
If you want to:
- Improve customer acquisition
- Identify weak points in the customer lifecycle
- Deliver exceptional experiences that leave your customers feeling WOWed!
So there you have it, your products and services are the not the only key factors when it comes to gaining an advantage over your competitors. It’s time to put the customer first and invest the time into learning about what they want and how you can deliver it to them.
If you’re wondering about how you can improve your customer experience, then check out these blog posts: