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Crafting an Exceptional Customer Experience: Strategies for DSM Small Business Owners

Customer Experience

April 23, 2024

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is consistently proving itself to be a dynamic and supportive environment for small business owners. This is great for the entire community and the economy. However, this success also brings with it certain challenges. In a thriving business climate, you’re going to have some competition. To stand out from the crowd, one of your most powerful tools is exceptional customer experience.

When your business ensures that your consumers always have a great journey, this doesn’t just tend to result in a single conversion. It can also influence levels of customer loyalty and recommendations. So, what can local entrepreneurs do to craft this solid customer experience? Let’s dive a little deeper into the subject.

Get to Know Your Customers

Whether you’re selling globally or to DSM-based consumers, each customer segment will have its own needs and preferences. Great customer experiences tend to come from businesses taking a little time to understand what these are. This allows you to better adjust your practices, products and even your marketing to ensure each connection you make with your target audience has a positive impact.

This begins with reaching out to your customers occasionally. Your in-store sales staff can have conversations with consumers about their experiences and take note of their comments. Even setting up a booth at local events, such as the World Food & Music Festival and Des Moines Pride Fest can open up opportunities to chat about what is most important to local customers.

Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping improve customer experiences in this way. This is largely a result of the technology’s ability to use data analytics to assess and identify consumer needs. These software platforms look at real-time customer and market data to highlight the current trends and use machine learning algorithms to predict the demographic’s needs and preferences. Investing in these tools can help you to offer more nuanced service and personalized recommendations. This helps consumers to feel that they’re treated as individuals, which can boost your relationships with them.

Communicate Effectively

Communication is one of the most important elements of customer experience. When there isn’t clarity or consistency in the exchange of information, confusion and frustration can breed. There are some areas it’s wise to focus on when making improvements that improve connections with customers.

Communication channels

Your customers should be confident that there are open lines of communication between them and your business. If they don’t know how to connect when they have questions or complaints, they can easily become disengaged. Advertise on your website and in-store how your customers can contact you, either by email, telephone or through online support methods.

Wherever possible, go with an omnichannel approach here, as your customers may be using different methods of communication at different times. During non-business hours, consider placing chatbots on your website to handle simple queries. This approach has a local connection, too, as ChatGPT— an artificial intelligence (AI) model that supports many chatbots — was developed here in Iowa.

Internal communication

Alongside contact with consumers, it’s vital to recognize that strong internal communication influences customer experiences. Streamlined communication between workers and departments means that workers can gain a better understanding of the goals and values of the business. This translates to their interactions with customers. Not to mention that effective internal comms means that there’s a clear line of feedback between consumers, different departments and company leaders.

It’s vital to evaluate the internal communication channels to establish where any hurdles or bottlenecks are. Reaching out to workers themselves can be valuable, as they have a nuanced understanding of day-to-day communications practices. It’s also wise to provide training on interdepartmental communication.

Invest in Your Employees

Your employees are among the most important resources for exceptional customer experience. They’re likely to be the most direct point of contact customers will have with your business. Therefore, the quality of these interactions is key. Investing meaningfully in your workers can make them more effective resources.

Firstly, it’s vital to commit to developing your workers’ skill sets. The more knowledgeable your employees are, the more useful and engaging they’re likely to be for your customer base. Your focus here should include:

  • Technical skills: These are essential for workers to perform in their roles. In some instances, this can take the form of in-house training or peer mentorship. However, it’s also worth subsidizing courses and certifications that provide workers with structured access to expert knowledge.
  • Transferable skills: Otherwise known as soft skills, these are personal characteristics that workers bring to their roles. Train them to develop abilities related to good customer experiences, such as communication, conflict resolution and empathy. For senior employees, connecting them with business mentors — such as those in Des Moines’ SCORE program — can be vital resources for developing entrepreneurial characteristics.

Another important area of investment is employee satisfaction, which can boost customer experiences. When your workforce is happy, they’re likely to be more motivated and engaged in giving your consumers great service. You can cultivate high satisfaction by paying your workers fairly for their work and offering benefits, like health insurance, that support their quality of life. But it’s vital to go beyond this by creating a positive work environment in which employees feel respected and valued. Consider implementing employee recognition programs and demonstrate your commitment to shared ethical and social values to achieve these goals.

With a few strategies, DSM business owners can develop a reputation for a great customer experience. This involves boosting clear communication channels and investing in your workers’ development, among other actions. But consumer needs will change over time, so keep examining your business to ensure it maintains the characteristics that result in strong relationships with customers.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.