How small businesses can solve 4 of the biggest customer engagement challenges
Learn how to promote your small business on one of the most important marketing channels.
1. Responding to customer enquiries quickly
In the State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company. That’s a small jump compared to 2019, when 78% of respondents said the same.
It makes sense, then, that more SMBs are listing timely responses as one of their biggest challenges. And, to meet growing customer expectations, 42% say they’ve expanded the ways customers can reach them, according to Trends Report responses. But it’s not just about expanding the channels in which customers can reach you, it’s about ensuring customers can get the information they need as quickly as possible -- whenever and however they choose to seek it.
One part of the solution is to empower customers to find information on their own, or through AI-enabled assistance like chatbots. This helps customers get what they need, when they need it, while freeing service professionals to focus on more complex enquiries. In fact, nearly two-thirds of service professionals say self service helped ease case loads during the pandemic.
Another big part of the solution is equipping employees with the information and tools to resolve issues faster. The right CRM solution can provide a 360-degree view of your customers and help teams access that information more easily. Whether it’s quick access to a customer’s transaction history, a system that automatically captures voice conversations, or an interface that minimises toggling between multiple screens, the right digital technology helps your people address customers’ issues faster.
As an example, Australian start-up and hospitality tech company me&u took a multi-faceted approach when the growing business realised it needed to scale its customer support -- especially since many of its customers required support outside of traditional working hours.
Using automation through Service Cloud, cases were automatically closed if customers indicated they were fully satisfied via a survey. Along with a more integrated view of each customer, the business is also leveraging Salesforce Knowledge and Chat with Einstein Bots to further automate its customer support.
2. Personalising customer engagements
3. Keeping up with demand
But moving online only tells one piece of a larger story, since the pandemic impacted almost every business in various uncontrollable, unforeseeable ways. This meant that some industries and regions felt the squeeze and needed to keep up with demand despite significant hits to budgets or headcounts. Others encountered spiking demand for offerings they hadn’t forecasted, or found demand ebbing and flowing at unpredictable times.
This is where flexible, customisable technology is key, since solutions need to be able to scale up or down rapidly. Health education company Medcast experienced this first-hand when the pandemic sparked a tenfold spike to their web traffic. Not only did they have to quickly pivot most of their in-person learning to digital courses, but they had partnered with the government to address a critical care shortage through online learning. This meant there were simply more customers needing greater support and access to digital courses.
Medcast had already established an online learning platform before the pandemic, allowing them to shift almost all of their courses to a digital format. They were also already using Sales Cloud, which meant they had greater visibility into the sales cycle and were able to provide vital reporting during the critical care project. Meanwhile, their employees were already proficient in collaboration tools like Slack, helping them address the influx of customer needs despite social distancing.
The spike in demand stress-tested Medcast’s Salesforce instance as well as their internal processes, helping them adjust the business to be even more efficient in the long run. But they were able to handle the quick pivot and high-stakes project due to flexible technological foundations that were already in place.
4. Bringing innovative offerings to market
Since August 2020, this is the issue that’s topped SMBs’ list of customer engagement challenges. And it’s not surprising -- when you’re focused on keeping the lights on, there’s not much time left over to think about innovating current offerings.
But SMBs proved as resourceful as ever during the pandemic, using new imperatives and customer needs to pivot in fast-changing circumstances. And many of the technology solutions we’ve already discussed can help -- particularly those that offer greater visibility into sales processes and a more integrated, data-informed view of customers. Especially during challenging times, knowledge is power.
This has been the case for Auckland-based hospitality technology company STAAH, whose industry has been massively impacted by travel restrictions and other consequences of the pandemic.
Already a digital-first business, STAAH consolidated some of its internal systems via Salesforce and streamlined processes across five very different markets. By integrating Sales Cloud with Xero and other platforms, they have much greater visibility into what money is coming in and out of a highly distributed business. They’re also using their tech stack to monitor changes in each market’s domestic travel and automating reactivation processes to help their customers adapt to changing circumstances.
Regardless of your SMBs’ specific customer engagement challenges, many solutions will depend on flexible digital solutions and removing customers’ most significant pain points. So what changes will you make to your business that will help you meet -- and exceed -- new customer expectations?