In order to provide a great customer experience, you need to really understand who your customer is and their needs. Businesses who know and understand their customers and are focusing on delivering a truly great experience, will thrive in the experience economy.

In 2019, creating an outstanding customer experience is no longer a nice to have, it is a must have, and small businesses have an advantage over larger businesses because they often know their customers personally.

The consumer has become more knowledgeable and selective, expects better levels of service, guaranteed quality and good value, as well as an interesting and exciting environment.

Think about your local café – in just a few short years the café has evolved from the local corner store selling granulated instant coffee in polystyrene cups to the coffee experience – cafes with ambiance, carefully selected music, free wifi, cosy urban design, several types of specialty coffees and milk selections and eclectic merchandising.

Food service providers no longer just provide a meal they need to become trusted advisors and suppliers of new products and adventurous food experiences. Restaurants today need to be willing to adapt their offering and cater to food intolerances and those making ethical choices such as veganism.

Your customer experience is the sum of all the interactions a customer has with your business – how long a customer must wait for service; a busy commuter will not want to wait any more than a few minutes for their morning coffee. Was a staff member knowledgeable on the product your customer was looking to purchase – did they know what type of tyres your car needed and what options were available in your price range? Were your customers quickly able to find what they were looking for in your shop? Could they easily download a price list from your website? Did you have a gluten free bread option?

What is important here is that these set of experiences become memories – good or bad – it’s what your customer remembers and that’s what is shared with their friends.

Every employee in your business must be able to put themselves in your customers shoes, see things from the client perspective and seek to improve the customer experience at every touch point. If you give your customers an opportunity to give feedback through short surveys using survey monkey and in-store feedback boxes you may be able to get some valuable insights into your offering – creating products and services that your customers want and need.

Through your feedback process and by building your business intelligence you might get some great insights into what makes your customers both happy, and unhappy – but you might also discover how you can cater to their needs better, and where you can make some improvements to your customer’s experience to ensure their on-going loyalty.

Make 2019 the year to rethink, improve, listen to and interact with your customers to deliver a customer experience that not only creates a competitive advantage but also boosts your bottom line.