One of the smartest moves for any small business is to clearly differentiate itself from the competition. Since actions speak louder than words, you should look for ways to be creative and “cutting-edge" when it comes to customer service and the overall user experience. Try to be THE company that is so great to work with that customers buy from you every time because they feel so positive about the experience. Here are a few ideas you can put into action to add value and benefit to your customers’ experiences:
1. Watch the Trends. Retailers that apply innovative thinking to emerging trends can generate significant growth and financial reward. For example, tailor your thinking toward aging baby-boomers, create gender-specific campaigns, or take advantage of the popularity of the healthy lifestyle trend.
2. Solve Their Problem. Add useful services, provide information, and help your customers fix their specific problem or situation. Bundle your products and services into complete solution packages that provide extra value to your clients.
3. Do It for Them. In a hurried, time-crunched society, consumers really appreciate any extra convenience you can provide to them. Offer fast shipping, home delivery, installation services, at-home consultations, etc.
4. Help Them Choose. With so much information and massive product choices, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to make things easier for your customers. Let them sample the products before purchasing, provide on-demand computer kiosks for them to look up information, or create blogs and online communities to provide clients with the help and information they are seeking.
5. Go Where They Go. New technologies are allowing retailers to connect with customers almost anywhere - at home, at work or in the car. As busy consumers look for greater convenience, there is a growing demand for mobile retailing and target marketing that goes everywhere your customers go. Think about using Podcasting, Text Messaging, or any number of innovative ways to reach your customers 24/7.
6. Make It Easy. Innovative processes, great customer service, and design solutions that are simple, intuitive and meet shoppers’ needs can save consumers valuable time and effort. Retailers that embrace new technology tools that provide easier and more rewarding customer experiences will increase their sales and also the loyalty of their customers.
7. Do It Their Way. Be creative and find ways to provide unexpected rewards or enjoyment for shoppers. Offer customization of items, free gift wrapping, personal shopping assistance, etc.
Lauren Hobson is the editor of Biz Talk, a free, subscription-based resource sent to clients, friends, and associates interested in tips and techniques for helping small businesses make the most of their web sites and marketing efforts without spending a lot of money. Biz Talk is a publication of Five Sparrows, LLC, specializing in web sites and marketing for small business.