In the middle of fulfilling their current customers’ needs, business owners might forget about bringing new ones in.
Expanding their consumer base is one the most important aspects for owners to consider when growing their businesses, but it can be difficult to prioritize in the midst of taking care of everyday responsibilities. But as consumer preferences evolve and technology continues to change, it’s critical for entrepreneurs to continue to be forward-thinking, which means they need to anticipate consumer desires before customers ask for them.
Business owners who can successfully do this will foster customer relationships and longevity for years to come. Owners who don’t will struggle to adapt to changes and lose customers who have demands their businesses can’t keep up with anymore.
Owners should follow this advice to ensure their business engages consumers and thrives for many years:
Emphasize customer service
Word of mouth travels fast. When it comes to customer service, nothing can tank a business faster or than how a company treats its consumers. This means business owners need to always be thinking about how to improve the customer experience. In 2017, that will mean making every aspect of the purchasing process – from browsing to checkout – seamless and hassle-free. If not, owners might see their consumer base shrink as they lose customers to their competitors.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, managers need to train employees on how to interact with customers, in addition to making sure they are knowledgeable about the merchandise in the stores. Business leaders can set up training sessions to go over customer service best practices, and they should also consider taking time to acquaint each employee with products so they are able to answer customer questions as they come up.
Additionally, business owners should provide consumers an outlet for customer reviews, whether it’s online or in store. These reviews could take the form of comment cards customers can submit to management or offering a space on the company’s website for shoppers to give feedback. This can act as a show of good will with current and future shoppers by demonstrating a company’s ability to listen and incorporate constructive criticism.
If business owners think investing in employee training is too expensive, they should consider applying for an alternative business loan, which gives entrepreneurs the cash they need quickly to stay competitive in their industry.
Integrate technology as much as possible
In today’s competitive landscape, technology can give businesses an edge in several different areas. Whether it’s installing self-checkout counters to cut down a customer’s time waiting in line or analyzing customer data from CRM software, business owners should strongly consider implementing technology in their day-to-day workflows.
Business owners should digitize as many of their tasks as possible, which should improve efficiency. By automating tasks such as storing files electronically instead of by hand, owners can spend more time crafting business strategies that will drive growth and draw new consumers in.
Updating to the latest technology can also be a useful security measure. Hacking is becoming more and more prevalent and consumers want to know their sensitive information is safe when they go to a retailer. This means entrepreneurs need to invest in technology such as an EMV card reader to reduce the risk that consumers’ personal data isn’t stolen during a transaction.
Perhaps the most beneficial use of technology in 2017 and beyond will be the ability for business owners to record and analyze consumer data to make on-the-fly changes to changing customer preferences. This is highly important in today’s economy because if companies aren’t flexible to accommodate shoppers, customers will leave to find someone who will. Savvy entrepreneurs should be able to use this data to predict future consumer habits and stay on top of what their customers want before they become restless.
Upgrading a business’s technology can be an expensive endeavor, but it is becoming more necessary to do so each year. For entrepreneurs who are concerned about the cost of these updates, they should consider applying for a small business loan from an alternative lender. Unlike banks, business owners can get approved without a perfect credit score, and they can get approved for their loan in as little as one day.
Offer an incentive to shop
No matter how much technology changes, consumers will always look for brands they can count on. Retailers can build that trust in future customers by creating rewards programs or providing perks for those who shop at the store. This could be anything from a buy-one-get-one free offer for certain items, offering a rewards card that gives consumers a gift after a certain amount of purchases or emailing coupons to individuals who join a company’s mailing list.
Retailers who incorporate these strategies into their business plans moving forward will be in a great position to grow their consumer base and thrive financially for many years.