Australian small businesses have been through a lot this year, and there’s never been more focus on honouring customer relationships and building loyalty. With businesses adapting to new ways of working and Australian consumer habits evolving, it’s never been more important for businesses to leverage insights to understand the changing needs and expectations of their customers.
Anticipate your customers’ needs
Personalisation and consistency have always been central to a great customer experience. There are now added elements to consider, like health and safety, but the basic principles of superior customer experience – ensuring they feel understood and valued – remain the same. The method of delivery, however, is changing. The proliferation of eCommerce, which has seen record online sales in recent months, means a good customer experience is about providing effective, memorable services across all your sales channels.
Online stores can use search and purchase-based data to personalise the customer experience. For example, when shoppers are recommended products that are tailored to their previous activities on the site. These recommendations, that align with your customers’ interests, are what they expect to see when they visit an online store today. Be careful not to overwhelm them, presenting too many options can lead to “analysis paralysis” which often results in purchase anxiety and a rise in abandoned online shopping carts. The next era of personalisation is about simplifying purchasing decisions for customers, using technology to serve hyper-targeted experiences and products aligned to their needs and wants.
Develop deeper customer relationships
Truly understanding customers is about knowing what they want, their pain points and even their goals. Many brands now use profiling tools, like surveys and quizzes, to understand their customers better and use those insights to fuel their sales funnel and develop a more personalised strategy. For your small business, this is crucial. Whether through email, an online survey or a simple question at the point-of-sale in your store, if a customer can see your business is taking the time to better understand what they want, their loyalty will grow.
Provide options that make customers feel safe
Right now, personalised experience can also simply mean meeting them where they are, both physically and in terms of their shopping mindset. Since the onset of COVID-19, consumers have varying comfort levels with how they are able to shop so providing a variety of purchasing options will meet their individual needs. While some shoppers are more than happy to shop in-store, others might prefer options such as click and collect, or ordering online for delivery. No matter their preference, one consistent factor that needs to be front of mind for businesses right now is providing contactless payments. Recent research from Square revealed that almost one in three Australian businesses turned effectively cashless during the pandemic as staff and consumers alike shunned cash handling.
Nurture your existing customers
To cater to the needs of contemporary consumers, many of whom are active across multiple channels, many businesses are now pursuing an omnichannel strategy that blends physical and online strategies to engage their loyal customers. Google research found that 90 per cent of global shoppers search online prior to visiting a store. That’s why implementing tools that will streamline your operation, from marketing through to point-of-sale, and enables you to capture data at every touch point is crucial.
With insightful data, you can develop stronger recommendations that make customer decision-making easier, ultimately unlocking better retention and more loyalty. Delivering products and services in a targeted way, based on information from strong customer relationships, will be key to success for small businesses across Australia as we recover from the post-pandemic economic downturn.
Chris Rich, head of customer success, Square Australia