In 2020, the customer’s experience surpassed price and brand recognition as the most important factor in a consumer’s buying behaviour. And, a large number of those consumers are willing to pay a premium to have a positive and memorable experience when making their purchase – both physically and digitally.
For small independent operators, this is amazing news. No one is positioned better to take advantage of the opportunity to surprise and delight their customers than the local stores, restaurants and service providers who make up our neighbourhoods. And it isn’t that difficult to do. With just a little imagination, magic can happen. Here are some options that can serve your business well, even in a lockdown:
Small businesses are finding ways to create at home experiences for their customers by partnering with other business owners. Partnering with another non-competing, complimentary business gives you the opportunity to increase the essential nature of your offerings. A florist could partner with a restaurant to augment a dinner for 2 package. Add in a housewares business to provide the table setting or candlelight. Or partner the flowers with a personal service package of comforting items, like soaps and bath items, and clothing, like comfy PJ’s to create a stress reliever experience. Stronger together.
Zoom is the online meeting tool of choice during the pandemic, but it can be a cool addition to your customer engagement efforts. Instead of an open live chat on your website or social media, keep a Zoom room open during business hours. This way your customers can pop in to ask questions, you can use it to show them what you have in stock, help them to purchase it and arrange a curbside delivery. It’s free and easy and a convenience to your customers.
Especially now, when personal interactions are limited or off limits completely, anything you can do to personalize the experience for your patrons is very welcome. Write a personalized note with each order thanking the customer for their support and wishing them well. Get postcards done up with a picture of your team and a thank you message. Have a landing page on your website with a video message from you and/or your team with the same message and perhaps an offer to re-engage with you again.
For brick & mortar locations, your storefront is real estate that cannot be overlooked, especially when consumers can’t enter. Get creative! Use your windows, doors and sidewalks to create a memorable impression. Use a lot of colour, especially in the gloomy months, and your boxed up Christmas lights. Tell your story, show off your stuff and become a point of interest that people want to share. This is an inexpensive way to get noticed and gain an audience.
Your business is going through a really rough time, but so are your customers. Give them an outlet to share their experience and show your support for them. In a park in Quebec, a few neighbours placed their now undecorated Christmas trees in a circle with an invitation for people to decorate them with their wishes for 2021. Use your window with paint markers and invite people to share messages of hope when the restrictions allow. Finding ways to help your consumers cope, especially ways that are tied to your business purpose, will be very welcomed.
So, how can you provide a customer experience that will create pent up demand for your business? Now, in the quiet of a lockdown and during the slow re-opening phases, is the perfect time to really connect with consumers and your community. It doesn’t have to cost much to make a big impression.
About the Author: This is me! My passion lies in leveraging today’s technology to create, support and engage communities and drive measurable economic growth. Like many, I yearn for a time when fear won’t dominate actions, where local shops thrive and people understand the value and power of local investment, in all it’s forms.
~ Lisa Denis, Founder