How SMEs Can Master Customer Experience


Roberto Marzo, Head of Strategy and Business Development at MessageBird discusses the difficulty smaller businesses can face competing again bigger rivals, and how to leverage communications technology to bridge the gap.


People are now using the term “digital clutter” to describe the terabytes of data which are created daily. The problem has reached the point where studies are revealing how a significant number of consumers are stressed about what to do with this clutter.

However, it isn’t merely an issue for consumers. Businesses trying to break through the noise are up against tough competition. In fact, 77% of app usage time is spent in a consumer’s top three most-used apps leaving only 23% of the time for “other” apps. Moreover, if you consider that the leading activity in apps is digital audio, followed by social networking, the chance of any particular business app rising to the top becomes slim. 

Breaking through the clutter isn’t the only challenge SME’s face. After Amazon recently made headlines for failing to make deliveries on time due to poor weather and an influx of orders, it’s clear that no retailer is immune to challenges in the post-order experience. Not even Prime: the king of two-day shipping, 

Whatever the size of a business – things happen. Whether it be a November ice-storm, an unexpectedly high volume of orders, or even a package disappearing inexplicably from a doorstep – when customers don’t get what they expect, they increasingly hold the business accountable for making it right. 

In fact, 80% of customers believe that the experience they have in interacting with the company is just as important as the products or services the company provides. If a customer becomes unhappy, their experience with customer service is what often determines their return to your business or move on to another with better service. 

With the cost of customers switching providers due to poor service at a staggering $1.6T, SME’s are looking for ways to break through the clutter. Here’s how they’re doing it:

Go Beyond Apps to Meet Customers Where They Are

Don’t get me wrong, apps are an excellent way to engage your most loyal customers, but asking the other 90% of your audience to download yet another app on an already congested device may not be the best way to win customers. That’s why small business owners are now looking for ways to reach customers on the apps they already use.

SMEs don’t need to build another app to engage with customers. Today, competitive businesses have gone beyond custom apps and social media to meet their audience on the channels they are already using – SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger – you name it. 

What makes these apps so valuable in the customer experience is that talking to a rep on WhatsApp feels very similar to how people communicate with their friends and family. When you talk with a friend over text, you’re able to pick up right where you left off. There’s no recounting each of your previous conversations – it’s all right there for you to scroll up and read if you need to refer to it. Conversations with friends also happen when it’s convenient for you – they are not scheduled, and it can happen over a couple of hours, or even days even. 

Cloud communications platforms help companies mimic this experience when interacting with customers. Through conversations with customer service on messaging apps, customers and agents can carry on a conversation on the customer’s timeline, at their convenience. CPaaS APIs also make it easy for agents to keep up with the status of a customer interaction with a record of past conversations all merged into one seamless thread. 

Take Small Steps Toward Big Results

Where to start is a question even for the largest businesses, and with the growing number of communications channels, procrastination often seems like a reasonable solution.  But, what businesses have found is that even small steps can equal big gains. Whether it’s engaging a customer with birthday offers or letting them know when something they bought previously is discounted, personalisation and frequency go a long way to making customers feel valued.

Case-in-point: CataWiki, the online auction platform for curated collectables—like the world’s most expensive Lego set, a lock of Napoleon’s hair and a 1982 DeLorean—leverages real-time alerts via text, so prospective buyers know when they’re being out-bid for one-of-a-kind, one-in-a-million, treasures.

It’s the same technology Hugo Boss and Rituals Cosmetics use —not just to tell customers when products go on sale, but to tell customers when their favourite products go on sale. With advancements in cloud communications software, including no-code programmes that can be used intuitively by anyone, it’s easier and more accessible than ever for retailers of all sizes to give customers the experiences they value and increasingly expect.

It’s no mistake that companies like Amazon and Nordstrom have risen to success – they embody a “customer first” approach that has created the kind of convenience that keeps customers coming back. The good news is that building these types of experiences and managing the matrix of communications channels is no longer out of reach for even the smallest business. 

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