The Small Business Guide to Digital Customer Experiences

September 10, 2021
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From a technology standpoint, the past year has been all about digital transformation. As this transformation has evolved, small business owners have been hyper focused on keeping their businesses going by making customer experience a top priority.

When working through all of the change that comes with converting your business to a more digital experience, you need to remember to always keep the customer preferences top-of-mind. Whether you’re just getting started or want to fine-tune your digital strategy, this guide will provide some best practices for meeting customer demand for more online experiences, staying engaged with customers, and using the tools and tactics to create a great customer experience that will help keep loyal customers coming back and make new customers loyal.


 

Laying the groundwork

To thrive in today’s rapidly changing work environment, small business owners, if they haven’t already, should explore replacing outdated technology with more robust digital tools to help power productivity and keep up with competition. A positive customer experience improves customer retention, customer satisfaction, builds brand advocates, and can increase cross-selling and up-selling.

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The digital experience

For many small business owners, providing a more digital experience means replacing older tech and manual procedures with digital processes and automation. Some examples include:

icon_checkSetting up cloud-based POS for increased accessibility and a more seamless customer experience.

icon_checkLeveraging automated assistants to help customers get the information they need and triage calls to the appropriate person. By arming automated assistants with important information like web and email addresses, hours of operation, and any new policies and procedures, you can ensure important information is reaching customers in a timely way.

icon_checkSetting up a splash page for your guest WiFi network that serves logged-in customers with needed information about your business.

icon_checkUtilizing Unified Communications tools as a means to empower team and customer communication. Real-time messaging ensures employees can collaborate in the moment and help keep productivity on track. One-touch conference calls mean you can get everyone in the same place without fumbling with dial-ins and get valuable digital video time with customers.

Take it step by step

Transformation of any kind is a multi-step journey, and digital customer experience transformation is no different. But as daunting as it can seem, getting started isn't always as difficult as you think. In fact, digital transformation can not only help improve customer interaction, it can also improve employee productivity -- but this doesn’t happen overnight.

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Start small, stay focused

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Learn from your successes and failures, and take the next step

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Be agile. Delivering great customer experiences is a never-ending journey and will require adjustments along the way.

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Provide seamless digital customer service

An essential factor in an uncertain economy is retaining customers. This can be tough when you aren’t communicating face-to-face with your customers as much as you used to (and even if you are), you should have a digital experience that’s reflective of the atmosphere of your business: helpful, caring, and active. Here are some actionable steps you can take to help build and maintain presence online:

01Keep your website updated. Keep customers informed with real-time hours of operation and processes that might be changing so customers can rely on the information they find on your website.

02Make sure all of your digital profiles are accurate (Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.) This includes contact information and hours, your phone number(s), hours of operation, service and delivery areas, menus, lists of services, and more.

03Consider proactive outreach to your customer base, keeping them apprised of any important updates and maintaining both channels as open lines of communications for customers to get in touch with you. Make it easy for customers to understand your policies for online ordering, curbside pickup, etc.

04Roll out solutions to enhance customer experience, like appointment-scheduling apps, to make your services easier and more convenient to use.

05Set up a splash page for your guest WiFi network that serves logged-in customers with needed information about your business.


 

Keep it personal

Personalized experiences have the potential to help boost revenue and loyalty. In fact, customers have likely come to expect them. Personalization increases relevance and in-turn, engagement, thus delivering better experiences in the process. Through a better understanding of each customer, rather than just all customers, personalization can provide unique benefits that some of your competitors won’t match.

Prioritize and digitize relevant customer journeys

When a customer interacts with you on their phone or another device, they are embarking on a digital customer journey. By leveraging this customer data about how they are shopping or searching your site, you can prioritize the most important journeys to digitize, bridging gaps between processes and people, to smooth the journey and maximize the value of their time and business.

  • Learn about your customers and their habits: You can pull insights from your guest WiFi to help boost customer experience, enable new marketing techniques, and drive revenue.
  • Analyze footfall patterns, to see how many people with WiFi-enabled devices are coming into your business, and how many are walking by. This creates the opportunity for you to understand traffic patterns.
  • Examining new vs. repeat customers gives you a window into your ability to draw people back for subsequent visits, and dwell time figures allow you to see how long customers are visiting your business.

Enable seamless, omnichannel customer experiences

Taking the delivery of seamless interactions one step further, customers increasingly expect to start a transaction in one channel and seamlessly continue in others. These “omnichannel” experiences give customers the ability to transact on a website, move to a call center or chat function, switch from a desktop to a mobile device, and even walk into a store without having to start over.

Customers have the choice of using multiple devices to engage with your organization. Recognizing that any given customer may choose desktop, voice, mobile or other devices at any given time, your digital strategy needs to accommodate customers changing preferences and expectations.


 

Strong IT foundation required

Delivering on these varied technologies requires a strong, flexible IT infrastructure.

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Connectivity
Start with the POS, which is increasingly cloud-based. Cloud application requires a fast, reliable Internet connection in order to perform properly and to help minimize downtime. Small business owners should consider a reliable network when it comes to their Internet connection, and one that has the ability to handle occasional spikes in traffic. Robust WiFi is a must to leverage mobile ordering and personalization capabilities as well as online ordering applications tied back to the POS.

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Security
Security is another building block. Like any business, small businesses are susceptible to phishing attacks, malware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), and other cyberattacks. Small businesses need to establish security policies and standards that apply to all locations, as well as regular security training for employees. When it comes to security tools, a defense includes a good mix. Threat monitoring, firewalls, and anti-virus solutions are all valuable cybersecurity measures, and should be used in tandem with each other and alongside smart online hygiene practices.

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Speed
Speed is critical. When things get busy, the last thing you need is slow Internet. Find the speeds that are best for you.

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Conclusion

Determining the best path forward for your small business is never easy. However, the last year has taught all of you to be ready for anything. The best approach is to be flexible and agile, ready to pivot in new directions at any moment. When you can't predict the future, you need to rethink your assumptions and be open to new possibilities for keeping customers happy.

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Small business best practices for updating digital customer experiences

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