The current state of the economy has not made things easy on business owners, and entrepreneurs must think creatively in order to satisfy their customers while operating within a tight budget. This can certainly be a difficult task; however, there are concrete ways small business owners can improve customer satisfaction without breaking the bank. By implementing the following four strategies, entrepreneurs can improve customer relations while saving money.
Improve Shipping Methods
Shipping products to your customers can be quite complicated and costly, and making the wrong shipping choices can have damaging effects on your profits and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, by utilizing the best shipping software, you can save a tremendous amount of money on shipping while improving delivery time and reliability. Take advantage of shipping solutions that offer discounts and allow you to print postage and labels from home. It is also important do thorough research on the various carriers available and to choose the one that most accurately meets your company’s needs. Major carriers such as FedEx and UPS offer assessment tools online to help you find the best method based on the size of your shipments and the areas you will be shipping to. Consider consulting a representative from one or more of these carriers in person to get details on considerations specific to your company’s needs. Making necessary changes to your shipping method can dramatically improve efficiency and customer satisfaction while saving your business a significant amount of money.
Make Your Website Customer-Friendly
Revamping your website is an inexpensive and important way to better meet the needs of your customers. Consumers have become increasingly reliant on company websites when it comes to purchasing decisions, and your business’s online presence dramatically influences the way customers feel about your services. According to Businessweek, there are two main reasons your website may not be meeting its full potential. The first is that a lack of Web traffic may be preventing clients from ever seeing your website, and the other is that your web visitors are not turning into customers. To better determine how to address these issues, conduct a free online assessment of the clicking habits of people who visit your website. From there you can determine how to keep clients interested in what your site and business have to offer. One of the most important ways to keep customers happy with your website is to improve its usability. Consumers report that one of the most important aspects of a company’s website is easy navigation. As such, it will be in your best interest to simplify your website, making the search bar and contact information easy to locate.
Motivate Your Staff
Research shows a positive connection between a motivated staff and quality customer service. Employees who feel a sense of job satisfaction are much more likely to interact with clients in a positive and customer-focused way. There are several effective and inexpensive ways to motivate your staff and to ultimately improve customer satisfaction. For example, employees who feel knowledgeable about their positions and have confidence in their job performance are more likely to have positive interactions with the customers they are assisting. Therefore, it is well worth your time as an employer to give your staff the training and information they need to feel confident in their positions.
Employers must be cognizant of the role employee recognition plays in workplace motivation. A study by Bersin and Associates reveals that companies with effective recognition programs have a 31 percent lower turnover rate than those that fail to recognize employee achievement. Implementing specific, work-based recognition into your management style will tremendously improve morale as well as customer satisfaction.
Cater Social Media to Customer Needs
Research on social media is beginning to suggest that people turn to the Internet in order to satisfy one or more of their basic human needs. These include identity, self-esteem and community. Business owners who use social media to meet these needs are much more successful in creating an emotional connection between their company and their customers. Keeping this in mind, assess your company’s social media presence and find ways to gear its content toward meeting the needs of your customers. Encourage a sense of community by posting links that invite discussion, and use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to help customers identify with your product on a personal level. Keeping your social media content relevant to these basic human needs will improve customer satisfaction and increase profits by encouraging customer loyalty.
Keeping your customers happy can be difficult, particularly in the midst of a less than ideal economic situation. However, by implementing these simple and cost-effective strategies, small businesses may cultivate a high level of customer satisfaction while improving overall profits.
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About the Author: Mary Jones works as a consultant to small businesses.