Small Business Guide: 3 Effective Tactics for Authentic Customer Engagement

Small Business Guide: 3 Effective Tactics for Authentic Customer Engagement

In recent years, small business owners have endured a changing operating environment and weathered various hardships. It is clear why small business owners remain confident in their revenue and business prospects despite the challenges of today’s economic climate.

Small businesses have a unique ability to create personalized experiences for their customers through creative outreach and customer engagement techniques, differentiating them from large retailers and leading competitors. Small business owners across the country are proactively engaging with their customers to meet them where they are by prioritizing their needs, creating new and regular touchpoints, and building strong brand recognition within their communities.

This shows us how customer-centricity leads to increased sales and profits, which leads to more sustainable business growth in the long term, highlighting the role that connection plays in turning one-time transactions into meaningful relationships.

If you’re looking to drive customer engagement in the second half of 2024, here are some ideas you can implement to improve customer experience:

1. Personalize the customer experience

Personalization is about understanding your customers’ individual needs. Anticipating them and understanding their preferences shows them you’re paying attention to them.

For businesses with a physical presence, personalization goes beyond simply remembering what they always buy. This includes carefully tailoring recommendations based on what you already know about your customers and creating loyalty programs that motivate them to return and shop in-store. For example, if you run a coffee shop, you might offer your customers an in-store pastry that you know pairs well with the coffee they always order.

If your business is virtual, you can send personalized thank-you notes to your regular customers to learn more about them and what they love about your business. You might also consider sending them personalized recommendations based on their previous purchases to keep them up to date with your latest offers and announcements.

Regardless of your business model, refining and adapting your engagement strategies to enrich and enhance your customer experience will help your customers feel more connected to you and your company, effectively building brand loyalty and increasing the value of your company to them.

2. Listen to customer feedback

Small business owners should strive to establish an open dialogue with their customers. Two-way communication contributes to a deeper level of trust and transparency so customers feel seen, heard, and valued.

For example, our 2024 Bank of America Executive Report found that 79% of small business owners actively solicited customer feedback last year. These business owners use a variety of methods to analyze customer sentiment, including monitoring online review platforms and sending post-purchase customer service surveys.

Implementing a customer feedback loop can also help your business evaluate whether and when it should act on the feedback it receives. Consider creating a framework of questions to guide you. Possible questions include:

  • Is this a repeat complaint or suggestion?
  • Could this have a negative impact on sales in the long run?
  • What are the pros and cons of implementing this feedback?

As a business owner, you need to anticipate certain complexities that your customers may not understand. Therefore, it is important to be able to recognize and distinguish trends in feedback that are worth taking action on. Responding correctly to customer feedback will result in improved products and services and increased customer satisfaction.

3. Use Social Media to Connect

Social media continues to be a powerful tool that small business owners can use to connect, grow and retain their customer base. Our Business Owner Report also found that most small business owners believe brand building is important to the success of their business. Nearly half of the owners we surveyed are actively working to build a consistent external brand for their company. Expanding reach through social media allows business owners to connect with new customers, promote their products and services and highlight the value of their brand, thereby reinforcing their company’s unique perspective and business advantage.

Social media has also brought new opportunities to connect with customers online. This allows business owners to actively track how customers are engaging with their brand while building deeper relationships with them. Social media can also help give your business a more human face. Consider posting about yourself and your employees, or hosting an “About Me” or Q&A session where customers can get to know you on a deeper level.

In an ever-changing business environment, small business owners must continue to prioritize what matters most – their customers – and keep them at the center of their business plans and decisions. That’s why small business owners aren’t just salespeople; they’re trusted advisors, friends and active members of their communities. By harnessing the power of creating personalized experiences, leveraging customer feedback and using social media to build community, small business owners will be better equipped to close the year successfully.

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