Nurturing customer loyalty: A strategic approach to CX

By Camille Flores-Kilfoyle, Head of Marketing EMEA, Reputation

It’s alarming to see the latest research from Slack reveal that 40% of small business owners see 2024 as a ‘make or break’ year – 38% of small business owners even said they’re more worried about their business as they enter 2024 than they were as 2023 started. Across the board, many SMEs are still facing tough issues like a volatile economy, a polarizing election year on the horizon and declining sales. In such trying moments, SMEs need to prioritise delivering good customer experiences, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

The Pivotal Role of Good Customer Experiences for SMEs

The pandemic brought customer experiences raring into the spotlight, emphasising the critical need for enhanced customer engagement, especially in a world where online interactions have become the norm. SMEs took note, with  43% of SMEs reporting that they are exploring new technologies to increase productivity and efficiency. For SMEs with smaller and often more attentive customer bases, the repercussions of poor experiences are particularly significant, as lost revenue or a bad reputation cannot be swept under the rug. In this context, strategic planning becomes paramount, focusing on understanding strengths and weaknesses to mitigate the adverse effects of subpar customer experiences.

Listen to your customers

We’re all well used to hearing ‘the customer is always right,’ but it is critical that SMEs employ the correct tools to ensure that they can properly capitalise on customer feedback. There is such a vast amount of data out there, but the touchpoints of reviews, business listings, and social media activity can all lead to actionable insights.

Such data can often provide a clear and digestible reflection of customer sentiment to aid SMEs in setting internal benchmarks for performance, from identifying areas of excellence to those in need of improvement.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

It can also help to highlight a brand’s strengths and weaknesses by guiding marketing investment to the areas where it will have the most impact, such as addressing online presence, improving customer support and meeting customers where they are.

And the key for SMEs is not to over complicate it, particularly where they may not have the sample size to delve into the insights. Focusing on the basics, listening to feedback and taking real-time action are key drivers for success.

Going Beyond Customer Voice

In today’s hybrid and often digital-first world, customer service and employee satisfaction actually go hand-in-hand. Research shows that 50% of consumers would switch brands after one negative experience with an employee. Leaders, especially in SMEs facing talent retention challenges, play a vital role in employee engagement. To start, it is imperative to gather and act on employee feedback.  Regular surveys offer invaluable insights for fostering a positive culture and creating a supportive work environment, which will enable  staff to provide exceptional guest experiences. Brands committed to nurturing and empowering their workforce lay the groundwork for future success in delivering unparalleled guest experiences.

A 360 Approach to Customer Sentiment

In summary, the challenges faced by small business owners in 2024 underscore the critical role of customer experience as a key determinant of success. A strategic and comprehensive CX approach, encompassing all channels, is now table stakes. Employing technology, such as advanced data-driven metrics, empowers SMEs to effectively grasp and address customer feedback. This not only informs marketing strategies but also extends beyond customer interactions, incorporating employee satisfaction to cultivate a positive workplace culture. In navigating the digital age, a holistic CX strategy, embracing both customer and employee perspectives, establishes the foundation for enduring success and brand loyalty. It equips SMEs to navigate the intricate business landscape with resilience and adaptability.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024