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March 8, 2019 Webinar Recap: 6 Ways Your Small Business Can Use Customer Experience to Win

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We’re officially in the age of experience. By 2020, experts predict that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key value that people will seek in businesses and brands. So Buzztime teamed up with GoDaddy to host a webinar and share 6 of the best ways you can rock your customer experience.

1) Be a Great Storyteller on Social Media…and Share Your Customer Experience!

Brand storytelling on social media influences customers by increasing brand awareness and reach, while attracting new followers. It’s also a way to bring your customer experience to life…in the digital world. Your story is how your company will be remembered by customers.

Creating a brand is a lot like creating a human from the ground up. You’re giving it an appearance (design), personality (voice) and values (mission). Think about the way you’ll communicate your brand’s personality through your customer experience online. Will you be casual or sophisticated? Funny or more on the serious side?

After you define your brand, the next step is to begin sharing content about your customer experience through the following 5 strategies:

User-Generated Content

User-generated content is content created about a brand by anyone other than the brand itself. These content creators can be consumers, internal employees, contractors, vendors or anyone familiar with your brand and customer experience. Why is user-generated content important?  Simply put, it’s more trustworthy than branded content. We’ll take a closer look at this in section #3.

Behind-the-Scenes

Go behind the scenes with photos and videos to show the fun built into your customer experience, and reveal your love for your team. People want to connect to other people, not brands. People are at the heart of a great customer experience after all.

Show Off Your Products and Services

By showcasing your best offerings in a creative way, you’ll remind followers why they love coming into your business for your signature customer experience.

Show Off Your Team

Posting photos of your team on Facebook and Instagram can build trust with potential customers and solidify trust with current customers.

Host a Contest

Creating a contest or giveaway on Instagram or Facebook create a fun, engaging customer experience in the digital realm. Contests can be as basic as asking users to like, comment, or tag a friend to enter, then you choose the lucky winners. Or, launch a photo contest and encourage your followers to take a photo and tag you or use a custom hashtag

2) Utilize the Latest Tech to Enhance the Customer Experience

We all want to feel like a NAME, not a number – and today’s technology can help you do just that. Your goal is to put the “custom” in customer by creating a customer experience all about their unique wants/needs. After all, according to Forrester Research, 77% of people recommend or pay more for brands that personalize their customer experience.

What Customization Looks Like Today

People crave to be recognized and appreciated, and 75% of customers today want your business to do one of the following according to a recent study by Accenture.

-Know their name upon arrival

-Make recommendations based on past purchases

-Know their purchase history

To gather these insights, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Ask your POS provider if they integrate with a CRM like Salesforce. You can also use a loyalty or reservation program to track your customers, let’s dive deeper into that….

Launch or Upgrade Your Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are not just about dishing out rewards. It’s a valuable way to collect customer data…so you can use it to create a customized customer experience

You’ve got options! Today’s best loyalty programs are simple and track guests through their phone number, email, or payment method.  Many loyalty programs even let guests choose what their rewards will be…and it’s not just about money. A VISA/Bond Brand Loyalty study found that 85% of today’s customers value “non-monetary” rewards like priority access to best seats or private events.

Smarten Up Your Reservations

Customization can begin before guests step into your business for the “real” customer experience. Programs like SevenRooms (a CRM reservation/marketing tool) lets guests make reservations AND outline their preferences from allergies to whether or not they’re celebrating a birthday. Your goal is to capture critical information and then use it to create a more tailored customer experience.

Touchscreen Ordering and Payment

Many restaurants and bars now let guests order from kiosks and restaurant tablets, so customers can build their “dream meal” in a few clicks. The result is a personalized, all-about-me customer experience.

When it’s time to pay? Customers can “pay their way” on tabletop tablets using credit cards or even mobile payment like Apple, Google, or Samsung Pay on their smartphones

A January 2019 study by TSYS found 79% of today’s customers want restaurants to offer tableside payment. The two main benefits of tableside payment are convenience and security.

3) Just Add Fun! Why Entertainment is Key to an Awesome Experience

There are very serious benefits to incorporating fun into the customer experience.

  • Build Loyalty: Facebook Loyalty Study asked 14,000 adults to describe businesses they like best. The top word used was “quality” followed by “fun.”
  • Add Value: Integrate entertainment into the customer experience to stand out from competitors, and enhance every visit.
  • Word of Mouth: People talk about fun and unexpected experiences.

How to Add Fun to the Customer Experience

Offer little extras like a complimentary drink on the house….“just because.” These surprise extras are the holy grail in building a better customer experience! It’s something that guests didn’t know they wanted – but are truly delighted to receive.

You should also aim for adding entertainment that’s worth sharing on social media. An example would be hiring a magician at a family restaurant, or training bartenders to perform tricks (aka “flair”).

Simple things like setting up a selfie station or DIY photo booth with fun props are easy ways to integrate fun into the customer experience.

Interactive Digital Entertainment

Perhaps the best way to integrate “fun” into your business model is to put it on autopilot. Make it something you don’t have to think about. If you have TVs, a small device can showcase interactive trivia. Customers can compete “live” against players in your venue – and across the nation – using handheld tablets, which can also access on-demand arcade games for all ages.

These tablets turn wait time into play time – and create a social, lively atmosphere that invites even more people to share in the customer experience. With new trivia and arcade games added often, this solution brings customers back to see what’s new.

Get Live with Social Events

Do you run a restaurant or bar? Instead of just hiring a live band, bring a level of social interaction to the customer experience. Try hosting workshops, tasting events, dance or yoga lessons, and speed networking.

For retailers, turn regular shopping into an event by opening earlier or closing later. Inviting shoppers to enjoy apps and drinks at these VIP shopping events.

Live trivia is always a popular interactive event and brings everyone together for a shared customer experience. Right now, the trend is going digital where guests use their own smartphones or tablets to submit answers. It’s a completely “self hosted” solution…no outside host necessary!

4) Leverage User-Generated Content to Create a More Authentic Customer Experience

The majority of consumers trust other people’s opinions of your customer experience more than advertisements. Sharing user-generated content (UGC) is a great way to diversify your content, build brand reputation, and gain more customers. UGC captures the customer experience…through your customers’ eyes for an authentic perspective.

Go to the Gram

Instagram is the mecca of user-generated content. It’s critical to know how to “regram,”use Instagram Explore, and find content through hashtags. Let’s start with hashtags: Most people choose their #brandname, but in the case that you should want to collect photos and videos for a particular campaign, you’ll need to create a specific hashtag that has not been used before.

For instance, the Bar Mercado team came up with the hashtag #barmercadoatl to promote their recent Instagram walk and keep track of all the UGC produced at the event. Once you’ve chosen your hashtag, plaster it all over your website, newsletter, email signature…everywhere.

Don’t Take Without Asking

Always make sure you’re in agreement with users before you share their content. This doesn’t mean you have to pay for every piece of user-generated content. However, if someone asks for a payment, you can either work out an agreement or look for users who would be willing to trade for the exposure. Just always remember to ask before sharing and don’t be shocked if they ask for money.

5) Extend the Customer Experience to Your Email Campaigns

When email marketing is done right, it can definitely enhance the customer experience. Marketing Sherpa reports that 72% of American adults say email is their preferred communication method for hearing from businesses (social media is just 17%).

Get Personal with Your Email Campaigns: Use an EMS

Your goal is to send emails WHEN customers want them, based on WHAT they’re interested in. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying them. That’s where email marketing software (EMS) comes into play.

An EMS like MailChimp or Constant Contact is a must for any small business. The cost ranges from free to $150/month. With an EMS, you can stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act which essential for creating a positive customer experience. The CAN-SPAM Act requires things like including an easy way for customers to opt out of your email and not using deceptive language like “open to win a million dollars” (unless you’re actually giving away a million dollars!).

In just a few clicks in an EMS, you can customize an email template that ensures your email will look good whether it’s opened on a smartphone or laptop. Best of all, you can track results of your campaigns through an EMS.

Use the Power of Automation to Create a Personalized Customer Experience

You can use variable data to personalize subject lines (which increases the odds emails are opened…along with using emojis!). Using an EMS, you can create pre-made emails that are “triggered” when a guest does something: comes in for a visit, signs up for your loyalty program, or is nearing their birthday…all on autopilot!

Most importantly, you can treat every guest to a VIP customer experience through your email campaign. How? By triggering a welcome email when they first sign up to get your emails. An Easy SMTP study found that welcome emails generate 320% more revenue than any other type of email. In your welcome email, include a reward for signing up – like a free appetizer or dessert.

6) How to Deliver Great Customer Service…Online!

Think of this section as a customer service survival guide to both build loyalty among your current customers and offer service that brings new customers in the door. Ultimately, the customer experience occurs both within your four walls – as well as online.

Did you know that a whopping 90% of people’s buying decisions are influenced by online reviews of the customer experience? And 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?  So, if you aren’t making an effort to encourage your customers to leave ratings or reviews of your business on sites such as Google, Yelp, Facebook or TripAdvisor, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to drive more traffic to your business.

Ask, ask, ask. Your staff must ask customers for their feedback whenever possible! A survey by Bright Local found that 70% of customers are happy to leave a review when asked.

Share Positive Reviews of the Customer Experience

Cross-promoting your positive reviews across your social channels helps promote your Yelp page in a compelling way, and it’s a great way to increase customer loyalty and encourage other satisfied customers to write positive reviews.

How to Share Customer Reviews
When people are raving about a great customer experience with you, share their good words with your social media following. The simplest way to share a positive review is by taking a screenshot and posting that to your Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also just cut and paste the text of the review on your social pages with a “Thanks!” to the reviewer. Use graphic design apps like Canva to make quick graphics with customer quotes incorporated to really stand out.

Respond to All Reviews!

Responding to all reviews of the customer experience and your product on Yelp, both positive and negative, can have a huge impact on your reputation. After all, 86% of consumers read online reviews of the customer experience and your product!

Potential customers are visiting your page to find out more about your business, responding to your reviews can help you build trust with current and potential customers, and highlight all the great things your restaurant is doing.

Tips for Responding the Right Way
The key to writing a great review response is personalization and sincerity. Be as personal as possible to make the reviewer see that their feedback is valuable. Anyone else who sees your authentic response may feel motivated to come in as well.

Nearly all of the Community Managers we spoke to said that their first step in responding to a negative review is to identify the single biggest pain point mentioned by the reviewer. Many times, one- and two-star experiences with a business stem from a single misunderstanding or error and unravel from there.

Remember, many people leave online reviews because they want to feel heard. By acknowledging and apologizing for the biggest thing that went wrong, the unhappy customer feels confident that you’re trying to earn their business – and taking steps to improve the customer experience.

And that’s a wrap on this webinar recap from Buzztime and GoDaddy…thank you for joining us and we’re always here to help you rock the customer experience!

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