Small Businesses Are Thriving With CX
Every shopper wants to be treated as an individual. Whether that be in person or online, demonstrating a clear knowledge of preferences and past purchases goes a long way in crafting a best-in-class customer experience (CX). Historically, the ability to deliver such deeply personalized experiences has been the backbone of small business success — think of the local coffee shop that always remembers how you like your latte. In today’s digital economy, these powerful experiences serve as a bulwark against the rise of mega-retailers and keep small businesses competitive.
In fact, a recent survey conducted ahead of National Small Business Week uncovered that 71 percent of consumers say they get a better experience when shopping at a small business compared to their larger counterparts. Furthermore, 80 percent would rate their experiences with small businesses overall as either “good” or “very good.” For retailers, understanding and embracing the value consumers place on CX can support long-term growth and brand sustainability.
The Price is Worth the Experience
For brands large and small, CX has become the defining competitive differentiator. In fact, research firm Gartner has found that 81 percent of chief marketing officers expect to compete mostly or entirely on the basis of CX within the next year. Whereas larger retailers have capitalized on convenience and lower prices, there's still a significant desire among consumers for engaging experiences. This represents a major opportunity for small businesses.
When polled, 86 percent of consumers stated they're willing to pay more for better experiences. When broken down along generational lines, this jumps even higher, with 94 percent of millennials agreeing. These kinds of experiences can range from interactive, experiential storefronts to seamless and engaging customer service channels. Consumers place a high premium on positive micro touchpoints, therefore, every interaction levels the playing field between large and small retailers. It’s such a compelling motivator, nearly half of all consumers are willing to turn to a competitor after just one poor experience. That makes it imperative for small retailers to deliver on core CX expectations like personalization and seamless interactions to drive repeat business.
Experiences Create Advocates
While CX can lead to sustainable growth, the benefits for retailers that pursue an aggressive CX strategy extend beyond profit. Experiences can create an intangible, emotional connection that's equally important. For example, through social media, experiences themselves can go “viral,” as customers share their stories and help fuel a cult of personality around an individual brand.
Customer experiences can help foster a deeper connection to a brand. That connection, supported by a strong customer service infrastructure, is a strong way to create a community of advocates, which is in itself an additional resource. Interestingly, consumers are more willing to go to bat for small businesses than they are for larger ones. Fifty-seven percent state they’re more willing to leave a favorable review of a small business after a positive experience. That validation is often important for consumers considering your brand.
Small Businesses Are Held to a Different Standard
Regardless of business size, personalization is a key factor in CX. Consumers agree, with 82 percent saying that it's an important element to any experience. At the same time, however, just because they believe it's important doesn’t necessarily mean they expect small businesses to be able to deliver. Nearly 60 percent don’t expect small businesses to know their purchase history vs. a larger business.
That expectation gap is an incredible opportunity for small retailers. As consumers don’t expect personalization to be standard procedure with small businesses, delivering on it anyway is all the more impactful, and can drive sales and a positive brand sentiment. For example, when a customer calls about a previous purchase, being able to leverage context-driven analytics to craft a perfectly tailored engagement is a differentiator. In this case, consumers underestimating small retailers can actually serve to their benefit.
Technology Puts Customers First
Despite the growing prominence of enterprise retailers, the emergence of the CX economy has enabled small businesses to tap into their innate strengths. While consumers see small businesses as the leaders in CX, staying ahead of their expectations with seamless, engaging touchpoints hinges on the ability to understand customers as individuals through data and analytics. Building on the foundation of interpersonal connection, then using it to inform future experiences is how small businesses will continue to thrive.
Samuel Wilson is the senior vice president of small business and e-commerce for 8x8, a company that helps businesses transform their customer and employee experience.
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