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When you’re competing for business online, it can be difficult to stand out. Consumers have so many options, and with industry giants like Amazon defining what everyone expects from a business, small businesses (with far more limited resources) have to find ways to raise the bar. What can you do to compete?

A good consumer experience is the place to start. According to a recent report, customer experience will overtake product and price as the greatest brand differentiator by 2020.

So how can you create a good consumer experience that puts you ahead of the pack? Read on to find out.

A Good Consumer Experience Is Personalized

You don’t have a warehouse, team, or corporate headquarters as big as Amazon’s. But what you do have is a dedicated team that understands your customers and community. And research shows this is what consumers want: 40% of consumers said they’d prefer to do business with a brand that understands and responds to their personal preferences.

Big brands can now achieve a high level of personalization through marketing automation. However, you can go beyond automated personalization and provide a real human touch.

Let’s say you open a pizza place. Consider adding a handwritten note to each order going out for delivery, thanking the customer for their business.

This is something that can set you apart from the big chains down the street. They may have an app to make ordering seamless, but you can build a relationship over time, learning the names of each customer and their family members.

A Good Consumer Experience Is Shaped by Customer Feedback

According to a survey, 79% of consumers want to do business with a company that really cares about them. One way to show you care is to ask for customer feedback and then act on what you hear.

Let’s stick with the pizza place example. If a customer tells you they’re unhappy with your recent change in pricing, reach out to them to thank them for their feedback. Then brainstorm ways to make your pricing more palatable, and put those changes into action.

A Good Consumer Experience Is One Where It’s Easy to Communicate

One of the most frustrating hurdles consumers face when trying to get answers about a business is not knowing how to get in touch. Have you ever visited a website that doesn’t provide an email or phone number, or you reached out via chat and never heard anything back at all? It’s a pretty discouraging feeling.

Consumers like to have options when it comes to communicating with your business, so make sure you give them more than one way to make contact. Have your phone number clearly displayed on your website and Google My Business profile. Incorporate a chat feature on your website. (Facebook allows you to use their existing Messenger platform on your own site.)

Make sure you have a customer service team in place that is equipped to answer emails in a timely manner. Consider adding live chat to your website to manage incoming inquiries.

It can be easy to feel intimidated by the resources of a giant, multinational business. But as a local business owner, you have something valuable: ties to your community and an ability to build genuine human connections. When you harness this advantage to create a good consumer experience, you can build a solid base of loyal fans.

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