7 Facts About Customer Acquisition at a Small Business in 2015

By Heike Young

We’re in a brave new world of connected people and devices. At CES 2015 in Las Vegas, the spotlight shone bright on advanced technology for everyday life: driverless cars, health wearables, and connected products for the home.

In many ways, your potential customer is as new as these technologies. She’s curious and open to different ways of interacting with brands, while constantly gathering information from social networks and digital media.

The purchase journey has been revolutionized like never before. Here are seven things small business owners should know about acquiring customers in 2015.

1. Customers have a growing appetite for knowledge.

They’ll self-serve themselves with information if you provide a content library that’s big enough. Jay Baer recommends an “ultimate FAQ” of at least 100 questions.

How-to videos, written FAQs, replies to public forum articles — each of these satisfies customers instantly, allowing your customer service team to focus on issues that truly need one-to-one attention. A robust FAQ page is a win for small business owners because it requires only time, not budget.

2. They expect preferences to be respected.

Demographics are dead, and selling today is all about the uniqueness of each shopper. Customers expect offers that are relevant and useful. I’ve heard plenty of complaints in the past year from friends who received an ill-timed or ill-targeted message from a company that turned them off forever.

Even if advanced personalization is still a distant goal for your small business, focus on building personal relationships and remembering all you can about individual preferences.

3. They appreciate flexibility with purchase agreements.

According to data from Edelman, 70% of consumers feel that brands are motivated by a self-centered desire to increase profits rather than by a sincere commitment to their customers. One way you can turn that feeling around is by becoming more lenient with purchase policies and returns.

People want to try before they buy — or at least not be locked in if they aren’t thrilled. Today’s best companies are offering more understanding return policies, thanks to an uptick in online shopping.

4. Customers want a fast lane.

When possible, don’t make them wait in line — in person or otherwise.Think about all the fast lanes available today: carpool lanes on the freeway, TSA PreCheck in airports, cash registers at the lunch place designated for online orders. Even at doctors’ offices, you can often download and complete forms ahead of time to skip ahead.

Use these examples to brainstorm how you can streamline purchasing and customer service at your small business. When do customers experience the longest wait time with your company? That’s the moment you want to shrink.

5. They’re getting great customer service elsewhere.

Good news for small businesses: customer service is the new marketing. Not million-dollar ad spots, not billboards in every major city.

Consider this top-notch customer service experience we shared on the Salesforce blog. While customer service of that caliber is still surprising, your competitors may soon be dishing out over-the-top-awesome customer service. It’s time to compete.

6. Customers need a seamless mobile experience.

They could be checking out your website and Twitter account anywhere, so make it easy to share your content with friends. Another area you’ll want to explore is mobile payments.

Every touchpoint is mobile, from transactional emails to your blog. Don’t forget that mobile also means tablets and different mobile operating systems. Test various elements of your customer journey on multiple devices.

7. They’ll get on board with your mission if you share it.

As a small business, you’re at the perfect time in your company history to share your mission and tie it to a bigger cause.

According to MSL Group, 78% of millennials recommend a company to their peers based on the company’s involvement with society. Fifty-five percent of millennials were influenced to take a job after discussing cause work (i.e., programs that help people and communities) in their interview (The Millennial Impact Report). It’s not just millennials who care about causes, though. All customers will take note if you let them know why your mission matters.

The bottom line: the customer of 2015 is changing rapidly, and hopefully, your small business is, too.

Ready to learn a few secrets to SMB success from entrepreneurs who’ve been in your shoes? Download our free e-book.

Originally published at blogs.salesforce.com.

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