The year 2012 was a whirlwind of influences on the business landscape—some of them good and some of them not so good. The fiscal cliff, the Presidential election, an anemic economic recovery and Hurricane Sandy’s effects on business are a few things that come to mind. Despite the ever-changing business landscape, one central tenet always rings true: keep your customers happy.
So, what can we do in 2013 to continue this mantra?
At Sage, our focus is the customer experience. We’ve done a number of things in the last year that I’d like to share with you. While Sage is a large company with over six million customers worldwide, many of the lessons we’ve learned can easily be applied to any business—small or large, in services or manufacturing, a brick-and-mortar or ecommerce. Let me share these lessons with you:
To that end, we decided to offer our products in a payment method that our customers are already familiar with: as a recurring service based on subscription. Our business management software is now available as a subscription license, meaning no huge investment up-front, which makes it easier for businesses to reduce initial capital expenditure to improve their cash flow and simplify budgeting. We knew this would significantly help our customers—especially in light of the recent economic situation.
Put yourself into your customers’ shoes. Perhaps you can offer more flexible payment or billing options that are more convenient to your customer. If you run an ecommerce business, consider extending your customer service hours by one hour in the morning and one in the evening—to accommodate shoppers in different time zones. If you are a distributor, consider a change to your customer communication regarding their sales orders, perhaps via text message or other more immediate modes of communication.
For many shoppers, the first thing they do before visiting a new merchant is check their reviews online and then look for discounts. How can you capitalize on this trend? You can offer coupons on your website or social media platforms. Consider developing a loyalty program that gives your most frequent customers discounts and other perks. Also think about other resources you could provide your customers. Perhaps you have a friend or employee who is an expert in an adjacent area who can offer free classes at your business. If you own a bakery, you could offer free cake decorating classes or even jam preserving classes (adjacent, but still relevant). If you have a manufacturing plant, you could offer your customers discounted shipping during the off-season. If you own a consulting service, consider extending a free hour of advisory services for a particular specialty of your firm.
Treating your customers with respect and thoughtfulness is one New Year’s resolution you should definitely make and keep. Happy New Year and here’s to a successful 2013!
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.