5 Small Business Resolutions to Make to Your Customers in 2019

Year after year, business seems to become less personal. Between the explosive growth of online shopping and the increasing application of artificial intelligence, technology has the potential to come between businesses and their customers. After all, we now live in a world where Amazon operates grocery stores.

While technology has its place in the business community, retailers, restaurants and the like have to ensure it doesn’t compromise the customer experience. Small businesses have found generations of success by treating customers like family, regardless of the techy innovation making headlines at the time.

As the new year arrives, small businesses can still resolve to make 2019 the year of the customer. 

1. Prioritize customer service.

Perhaps the most obvious way to support your customers in 2019 is to put them first on your list of priorities. What does that entail? It could be as easy as sharing your passion with them.

In the age of online retail, shoppers continue to visit brick-and-mortar businesses to experience high-quality customer service, learn more about products and get expert advice.

Small businesses that prioritize customer service will welcome their customers into the store, share their expertise and be ready to respond to questions and requests. When planning for the New Year, consider scheduling regular customer service training and ensuring all team members have the expertise to assist customers. 

2. Build consumer trust.

Consumer trust in businesses has been declining for at least a decade, with only 48 percent of Americans saying they trust U.S. businesses in 2018, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

With security breaches and personnel scandals dominating the headlines, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it does present an opportunity for small businesses.

According to SCORE, 91 percent of consumers find small businesses to be trustworthy and to treat their customers fairly. In other words, there appears to be inherent trustworthiness of local and family-owned businesses. Build and maintain consumer trust this year by doing what small businesses do best: Engage with customers, give back to the community and celebrate your local connection. 

3. Vary your inventory.

Many shoppers prefer small businesses for their unique product lineup. In other words, it may be time to reassess how your business competes with the big boxes, national chains or online retailers.

If you’re focusing on offering the same products in a more convenient setting, that may not be enough in the era of same-day delivery. Instead, vary your inventory to catch consumers’ attention in a new way.

By introducing them to a new product or service they can’t find everywhere else, they’ll have all the more reason to return. 

4. Embrace millennial trends.

Millennials have become the largest generation and the largest consumer group in American history. Two diverging trends seem to define the millennial market: On the one hand, millennials have given rise to what’s called the “experience economy,” as they prefer to spend money on memorable experiences than on one-time purchases. On the other hand, millennials have also fueled the “homebody economy,” as they prefer to stay in than go out. In other words, millennials like to stay in the comfort of their own homes, but when they do go out, it’s usually for a memorable experience, rather than a traditional retail or restaurant stop.

Small businesses can succeed with these conflicted millennials by focusing on creating experiences to lure them out, such as how-to classes or pet-friendly gatherings, and by finding creative ways to connect with them at home, such as social media content and subscription boxes. 

5. Go omnichannel.

Of course, no business can — or should — ignore the impact of technology. In many ways, technology has improved the customer experience by making goods, services and meals just a click away for busy Americans.

It’s essential to invest in technology that truly can improve the experience for your customers. That means creating an omnichannel experience. The omnichannel experience allows customers to engage with your business in person, over the phone, online and perhaps even via an app. Omnichannel marketing has been the name of the game for several years, and many small businesses already have some level of omnichannel experience.

In 2019, revisit the omnichannel presence you’ve created for your business to make sure it still works for customers. It may be time to update your website, re-engage with social media audiences or add a new platform to the portfolio. 

Make 2019 the year of the customer! By focusing on the customer experience, small and local businesses can make a connection with new and returning customers that will serve them well in the New Year and beyond.

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