With so many competing companies in today’s marketplace, customers have countless options when it comes to sponsoring a business. To influence their decision making, customers look for companies that they believe will add value to their lives.
Below, 11 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share their thoughts on how small business owners can consistently bring value to customers. They explain how these methods strengthen a business’s connection with its customers and ultimately ensure the longevity of the company.
1. Demonstrate a constant mission of improvement
There is hardly a thing as a perfect product, but demonstrating a constant mission of improvement is something I have learned to be extremely valuable to customers. One way to ensure that you always bring new value to new and existing customers is not just to get their feedback, but to implement it. Your clients use and benefit from your product or service every day and they can be your best partner in improving it for their benefit. Ask questions, listen to your customers and apply their feedback in a actionable way that they will notice – and don’t be ashamed to share these improvements. Let your clients know what you have changed and why you assure them that you are taking their input seriously. It also keeps you from stagnating under the long road of growth ahead. – Andrew Powell, Learn to Win
2. Build strong relationships with customers
Customers are people and there are people behind every successful business and huge brand name. Building a strong relationship with the customer builds trust and customer empathy. Customers really feel that you understand their problems and feelings. We’re close to our peers (we don’t call them customers because we think we’re on this journey together), listening to them attentively and providing a high level of customization and support to meet their needs. At the same time, we are always curious about people and we are always ready for a virtual or face-to-face exchange with our peers. – Dave Hangertner, ready
3. Meet their variable needs
One way you can always bring value to your customers is to meet their changing needs. Customers change their lifestyle, and as a result you have to accept their needs, year after year and in order to get into that flow. For example, those who sell bulk items to customers while raising children need to recognize that the day will come when the customer will be an empty nest. You can lose them if they think you want to sell them in bulk items. The key is to know when the time comes and offer to change their order before they come to you. The same goes for any industry. Know and recognize the changes your customers are making in their lives and learn how to add them. How did you do that You listen to them. – Baruk Labunsky, Rank Secure
4. Get their feedback
This can be through an online survey or other method, but find out what they like and dislike about your business. They will be honest, especially your regulars, and they will usually have some nice intelligent comments. From there, work on the feedback. Bonus points if you can identify a specific customer who has helped improve your business. For example, when Mr. Smith comes and says you should do something and you do it, tell him about the effect and you will have a customer for the rest of your life. – Andrew Shrez, Money Crushers Personal Finance
5. Support them through adversity
Bringing value to your customers will not only happen within the product or service you provide them, but will go beyond that. At the height of the epidemic, many customers of the metal mafia (tattoo and piercing studios across the country) were shut down first. Those who were closed weren’t able to use our products at the moment, but we did bring them value by providing Intel and support to help them navigate their PPP loans and track other donations to stay afloat. Customers were so grateful that our company not only took care of them, but provided them with effective support – and the price was invaluable to them. – Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
6. Listen to your customers and apply their feedback
Many companies claim that they listen to their customers, but this is only half the equation. Listening to your customers and implementing what they say in your offers is the best way to add value. If you do not implement or respond to what is being said, you will effectively communicate with your customers: thank you, but not thank you. Pro Tip: If you implement a change based on customer feedback, highlight the difference, why you made the change, and listen to your customers. Even better if you can put a face and a name to give customers feedback. It gives your customers the feeling that they are part of the innovation and help drive the business offer. And if you do it for a customer, others will believe that you do it for them. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
7. Pay attention to customer complaints
Pay attention to your customers’ complaints. Customers of even the most successful businesses are sometimes dissatisfied. While it’s never fun to focus on topics like negative reviews or critical social media posts, they can be very helpful in pointing out areas you need to improve. You can also find out about potential problems with your customers’ votes. Be as specific as possible in your question. In addition to multiple-choice questions, it’s best to ask open-ended questions, such as, “Which feature would you like to see that we do not currently offer?” – Kalin Kasabov, Protecting
8. Go to the phone with customers
Pick up the phone to check in Don’t wait until the end of a busy time to get feedback – actively seek out your customers’ insights so you can communicate with them before the relationship is complete. Ask what is going well and what could be better. Then, assemble your team to offer any suggestions for improvement, both for the client and for others who may benefit from that real-time adjustment. – Lindsay Tan, Logicprep
9. Integrate question-based customer service
Aren’t you asking your customers how they are doing? Are you leaving it to the survey monkey for them to answer 1 to 10? Bad idea. Open questions asked by real team members and real conversations are the way to put your customers first. You bring value as well as listening. Take notes, follow up on concerns and show that you really care about what your business is offering them and how you are helping them. All this is equivalent to two-way communication. It doesn’t scream through social platforms or canned email responses, but one-to-one customer service. You can automate a lot these days, but the key to longevity is to keep one-to-one communication private. – Matthew Capala, Alphamatic
10. Use data to demonstrate success
In order to constantly bring value to your customers, you can show them how you compare to your competitors and give them reasons to choose you instead. Using data and numbers will show why your brand is a better option. For example, you can compare product costs to show that you have a good deal. Whatever you want to compare, it will allow your audience to come to the conclusion that this is the way to get your business moving forward so it feels like a no-brainer. – Jared Aitchison, WPForms
11. Build your relationship with customers
In business, the relationship you have with your customers can be dead if you don’t nurture it. And many entrepreneurs make the mistake of starving their relationship with their customers by reducing it in their current product or service transactions. Sales, revenue, profits, or whatever metric you have is a backward indicator of the value you bring to market. Values are the core of business activity and in order to stay focused on value, you need to focus on these parts of your business. There will be a purchase process. I like to see it as your company’s customer experience. Make quality transfers fast enough. From the top of the funnel to the checkout button, meet where your customers are and provide relevant values. – Samuel Themothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions