Small Business Marketing Strategy - Enrich the Customer Experience

Craig Lutz-Priefert
 


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When we think of “Enriching the Customer Experience” our mind leaps to luxury brands like Lexus or Rolex. We imagine a customer surrounded by an elegant showroom, with sophisticated, beautiful salespeople waiting on her. Images of Champs Elysees, Fifth Avenue or Orchard Road float through our mind.

But there is another way to enrich the customer's experience, and that is to reduce the customer's pain.

Not as glamorous, of course, but quite effective.

What if people are already prejudiced toward our own business? Every business type carries along with it certain pre-conceived notions about it. Dentistry involves pain and Fast Food involves waiting in line-these facts are a given, just a part of the environment these businesses operate in, and no amount of smoke and mirrors advertising is going to change that fact.

The good news is all your competitors are shackled by the same set of constraints. Your customers already chose to use the services of you or one of your competitors—they are committed to buying.

Now we just need to stack the deck in your favor, so they commit to buying from you. The first thing to do is improve the product or service you are delivering. If you are a dentist, then use every new pain-reducing technology to minimize pain; if you are in fast food, then by all means speed up the process.

But let's get real-most small businesses are completely dependent on the technology developments in their industry to improve the customer servicing or check-out process. So, rather than improving the technologies, most small business can at best refine the process by which they use that technology. Our dentist can become defter at inserting the needle, and better at reading the customer's facial expression when the first hint of pain appears. Our fast food chain can lessen the actual time in line by streamlining the ordering process and reducing wasted motion in the food-prep area.

Unfortunately, this is where many great small businesses stop-they only improve their product or service. And many customers fail to note the difference in service level, because the business didn't communicate the improvement. And that’s when the poor small business owner starts pulling her hair out wondering why more customers don't come to her shop when she knows for a fact she's more efficient than the competition.

But there's another key to customer satisfaction that should always be a constant companion to product improvement-subtly tell your customers that you are doing the best you can to minimize their hurt.

For a dentist, one of the first steps could certainly involve the waiting room. It should be bright, with lots of photos or prints of people smiling and laughing and having fun. The effect need not be in-your-face, but imagine how a few photos of smiling faces sprinkled throughout can help the patient remember the benefit for visiting the dentist in the first place.

Of course, there's no substitute for a big smile from the receptionist as she greets you.

How about that line at the fast food franchise? Brightly colored Tensa-belts, floor advertising for the latest kiddie meal toys, balloons-anything to keep people looking about and distract their minds at least a little as they wait in that line. It's impractical to greet each customer at the door-so you really have to rely on your point of sale to help you out.

One suggestion-supply the parents something to help occupy the kids. A mom with small children is distracted enough, so she already has something to keep her from being bored in line. But you can subtract some stress from a parent if, right when she comes in, you can supply the child with something to keep his or her mind busy.

This is where little things like stickers on the Tensa-belt poles or some friendly floor graphics can help pull the child's mind away from the fact they are trapped in the chute on their way to order.

Remember this key lesson regardless of what business you are in: Improve process, but then consider the People, the customer, and as much as possible ease her pain.

It sounds like common sense, but at the end of a long day it's the last thing your staff is thinking about. But the Chief Marketer must think about the customer’s perception and her attitude

Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Craig Lutz-Priefert is President of Marketing Hawks , a firm providing essential marketing vision for small business. Marketing Hawks also sponsors the ongoing small business adventures of entrepreneur Crystal Trino at the JourneyToday website.

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