For the rest of 2022 and beyond, staying agile by listening and responding to the feedback you get will serve your small business well.
Here are our top 5 tips to help you thrive.
Honor Your Customers
In any relationship that’s important to you, when you listen deeply to someone, they feel heard and seen, and real listening honors the other person’s point of view. The same strategy works with your customers. Actively seek out feedback and know that both positive and negative responses can help you grow and stay relevant.
When sorting through any “negative” comments, you’ve got to use your discernment. What’s the tone like? Can you tell from the way someone expresses their opinion what their emotional maturity might be like? Are they spitting and spinning (if so, disregard any trolls), or is there something constructive you can glean from their comments?
A customer who had a bad experience they want you to know about took the trouble to communicate because they want you to do better. You might learn from their feedback an aspect of customer service that needs to be corrected or something that got neglected you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Make Customer Service A Priority
For a small business, your size gives you more direct access to your customers in many cases. There’s a famous quote from the great writer and poet Maya Angelou. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Make them feel cherished and important by caring about their user experience at every single touchpoint, from the first social media post they read to the free gift they signed up for to get on your mailing list, to the way you package or design a physical product or a service.
You can’t phone in customer service; it needs to be part of your company’s DNA, and a friendly face and the willingness to correct issues go a long way towards sustaining your great reputation.
Offer Flexible Schedules
When employees feel like there’s some give in their schedule, they appreciate it.
If your staff can start a little later or earlier, leave work to handle something personal, then return to either make up the hours or produce a certain result, they feel respected.
In this time of remote work, even though many are returning to physical offices or remote/hybrid opportunities, much of the rigidity of what a work day typically “should” look like has loosened up out of necessity.
That flexibility gives workers more autonomy over their time and allows for rest periods that are important for mental health and shouldn’t be neglected, creating a better work-life balance.
Take Advantage of Automation
Small businesses - depending on their size - may go through a period with a skeleton crew, with the founder or CEO wearing multiple hats for a while. However, to free up the creative energy of the leadership, outsourcing certain jobs, like administrative tasks can relieve a workload burden.
In addition, using automation for social media posts and email marketing, for example, gives you your time back. When you are engaging new customers, for example, set up your customer management system to automatically send welcome emails and another follow-up sequence depending on what they’ve purchased and what might be next for them to keep them engaged on their customer journey. You might use automation to send weekly updates or introduce new (to them) products.
Stay Uniquely You
Most of us experience a great deal of peer pressure to behave in ways that help us fit in so we’re not booted out of the tribe and left to wander the desert alone. We can stay social and civil and still stay strongly aligned with our own originality, which is especially useful to help a small business stand out.
Be original. Don’t succumb to those influences to stay beige! It takes some courage to assert your company’s uniqueness. Start experimenting with your brand storytelling or your origin story, even as an exercise, to get more comfortable with what makes you different.
Did you come up with another tip we didn’t list here? What do you think is essential for your small business to thrive this year?