Consumer confidence in American institutions is at a new low – but, there is still a strong trust in small businesses, according to a recent Gallup poll. The poll reveals that 68 percent of respondents expressed a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in small businesses, meanwhile Americans place far less trust in larger organizations – with 27% having a great deal of confidence in banks, 26% in large technology companies and just 14% in big businesses.
The level of confidence suggests that small businesses play a significant role in our economy, especially as trust isn’t as high across other institutions. As such, it’s never been more important for small businesses to find ways to build and maintain trust among current and prospective customers.
The importance of building trust
At the end of the day, building the trust of customers is one of the most important qualities needed for a business to succeed. This is especially important for small businesses, as consumer trust is critical to remaining profitable, competitive and positioned for continued growth.
Customers are the most valued asset – and winning their hearts and minds can be one of the more difficult parts of running any small business. Many business owners run into the challenge of trying to balance investing time and money in attracting new customers while nurturing and building relationships with existing ones.
Invest in the right technology
In order to remain competitive and to grow faster and smarter, business owners should consider investing in the proper technology. While initially, it may seem like a costly investment, technology and artificial intelligence can help to digitize processes, support your customers and improve their experience with your business. The right technology can help increase your efficiency, giving you more time back in your day so you can focus on your goals and building a base of happy, loyal customers that will do wonders for your business. They spend more, enhance your reputation and help you hit sales and revenue targets. Time is truly money for a business owner and technology can help bring about seamless and smarter workflows.
One effective tool that can save time and resources is investing in cloud accounting technology. This software enables small businesses and their advisors to optimize bookkeeping processes online, which allows them to keep records of important financial statements year-round to make informed decisions for their customers. Utilizing cloud platforms can help automate many accounting tasks and cut down the chances for human data-entry errors. An accurate, well-kept set of books is a great start to running a successful business so you can track cash flow, have reliable financial information for planning and budgeting, and it will allow you to stay organized and work easily with other parties such as lenders, investors and your accountant or bookkeeper.
If you want your business to work smarter and faster, cloud accounting software is a wise investment that will give you more opportunities to focus on other areas of the business, like your customer strategy.
Work with a trusted advisor
After implementing the right technology for your business, you can extend the power of the data and insights flowing in by partnering with a trusted advisor like an accountant or bookkeeper. The power of technology combined with the advice from an accountant or bookkeeper helps provide small business owners with the support and coaching they need to enable long-term business success.
Advisors work with clients to support business goals, provide industry insights and tap into their industry expertise. They also help operations run smoothly by offering a wide range of services to help small businesses work through issues and implement processes to make their business more efficient. Additionally, tech-savvy accountants and bookkeepers can help you unlock the power of technology for your business by setting up software for things like point of sale, taking payments, customer relationship management, invoicing, payroll and more. It’s easier than ever to find an accountant or bookkeeper who you relate to on both a personal and professional level, and they can make all the difference to how you run your business.
How to attract new customers while retaining current customers
Owning a small business may feel overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be when you’re set up with tools and technology and a financial advisor you can turn to help drive deep and meaningful conversations around your business growth.
Now, you can refocus your time on growing your business and the customer experience. Taking a customer-centric approach and having a clear purpose will bring everyone along on your business’ journey. Below are a few tactical approaches organizations can take to effectively attract new customers:
- Identify your business goals. Having a thorough understanding of goals should be step one, as it lays the groundwork for where you’ll want to spend your additional cash on alternate areas such as marketing efforts or the latest technology.
- Keep your website up to date. Your company’s website is often a potential customer’s first impression of your business. A website should clearly showcase all the key pieces required for a decision-maker to want to learn more.
- Prioritize your social media and content presence. Having a strong social presence establishes your company’s image on a global scale and allows you to tell your story, engage with followers (in many cases, potential new customers), share career opportunities and scale your marketing.
While engaging and gaining new customers is a pivotal part of the growth story of any small business, it’s important to also keep in mind the value of your current customers. One way small business owners can support their current customers is by implementing a strong customer success strategy. A customer success strategy focuses on ensuring customers maximize the value they get from an organization’s products or services. If done correctly, customer success can result in improvements to customer loyalty, increased revenue and reduced churn.
Here are a few tips for implementing a strong customer success strategy:
- Start with a great onboarding experience. Take the time to develop an onboarding strategy that is welcoming, fast and informative so your customers are quickly up to date about your organization’s products and services.
- Continue to educate your customers throughout their journey. How your customers absorb their information and where they are on their journey may differ, so it’s important to have various educational resources to relay relevant information to your customers on hand.
- Communication is key. Your team should be cohesive and agree on the company’s strategy and goals across all teams to truly understand your customers and how you can meet their needs. Different areas of the business – customer support, sales, marketing, etc. – offer a unique perspective that can help provide solutions to growing customer expectations.
By focusing on the areas above, small businesses will have the tools needed to not only build customer trust, but continue being one of the most trusted institutions in America.
Tanner Hoffman is the General Manager for Small Business Growth at Xero.