Building strong relationships with others is a foundation of humanity. We have friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors who we devote time, energy and effort towards. Developing those individual relationships is of high importance. There is a disconnect in business where we sometimes forget that customers are people who we should be building relationships with too. Who are your customers in relation to your business’ brand?
When you open a business and begin serving people, you immediately have a brand – whether you know it or not. A brand is your reputation tied to the things you stand for in the community, and how you want the business to be viewed. This is how customer expectations are set for the interactions they have with your business. The quality and value delivered by your business is evaluated based on those expectations, which creates the customer experience. Are you delivering on your brand promise?
Before you know whether or not you are delivering on your brand promise, the first step is to ask about your customers. Do you know your customers? What can you concretely say about your customers?
Each individual customer wields the power to influence prospective buyers. Social media and the hyper-connected world has provided everyone with a larger platform to share ideas. This means that customer expectations are critical to your success and must be at the heart of your brand.
In the news you may have read about all of the big brands talking about how they are trying to create more customization in the buying experience. Do you know why? These companies are large enough to be disconnected from customers. These large corporations are aching for the access to customers that we small business owners currently have at our fingertips.
Without realizing it, you have probably been providing customized customer experiences. Most likely, you have developed one-to-one relationships with some (maybe all) of your customers. Yes? You may even know what works best for them. Right?
What happens when your business begins to grow? This is when trouble can arise. Once you hand off the one-on-one communications with customers to someone else, do they know your customers the way you do? How does that transfer of knowledge work out?
In the age of technology, nearly every business (even us small businesses) have adopted software solutions to help out with customer relationship management. It can be as simple as having a profile of each customer and a description of what you do and how you do it. If you’ve documented all of your processes for relationship management, then the best way to evaluate the effectiveness is by using one key question. Could a complete stranger read through your CRM software and documentation and feel like they know your customers and how to deliver your brand promise?
What I’m getting at is a simple concept. Big brands put time and money behind developing processes and procedures for their customer experience and relationship management. When you work alone or on a small team, it’s easy to disregard documenting what you do and how it works.
Though it is something so essential for businesses of all sizes, many small business owners do not define customer experience or branding strategies. Some businesses are unwilling to fund the efforts to define, document and systematize such work. Adopting this operational tasks into the business can be a BIG way to differentiate and beat your competition.