Let’s be honest, Black business owners face a lot of negative stigma when it comes to how they view and handle customer service. Yet most of the noise is based on one or two bad experiences that have traveled across many lips. Because of this, it is an problem that we, as Black business owners, need to pay special attention to. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can change the culture of Black-owned businesses’ customer experiences.
While I will be the first to admit that only a small percentage of Black-owned businesses have a customer service problem, the truth of the matter is that this has generated an extremely detrimental stereotype very harmful to the rest of the Black businesses we claim we are supporting.
With online buying at an all-time high since the start of the pandemic, customer experience is at the forefront of business transactions world-wide. Below are a few ways that you, as a Black business owner, can create memorable experiences that WOW your customers and keep them coming back.
Customer Needs Trumps All
“I bet you think this song is about you…don’t you?” Unfortunately, it’s not. One big mistake that I see Black owners make when they become my clients is trying to perfect what they say, instead of focusing on their customers’ needs and how their business can fill the gap and provide the “thing” that meets their needs. So be sure that everything you say inspires, encourages, entertains, or educates your “audience,” i.e., customers, at every step of the way. And be sure to be as transparent as possible. This makes you customers’ experience with you both unique and memorable.
Education is Key
Knowledge is power. People are attached to the moments in their life that ignite a passion or interest, educate them about something new or elevate something they already know. So, if you create interactive moments with your customers that become good memories they associate with your business and/or brand, and their experience with it, this creates loyal customers who are bonded with your brand.
If you are not taking the time to build relationships with customers, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to bond with them. Ask them for their birthdate, anniversary and other important dates that you can use as opportunities to make them feel special. If it’s appropriate to your business or service, ask about their families and if they enjoy the work that they do. In a professional manner, of course. You are not seeking to become their new best friend.
Don’t Forget the After-Sale Steps
Many Black business owners make the mistake of focusing all their attention on the sale and not the post-purchase activity. Those who take advantage of nurturing customers after the sale, give themselves a huge advantage. How did they interact with your product at home? How did they feel after they received that service? The key is timing. You want to make sure you are doing this as quickly as possible. This is also a good time to address any concerns which might cause problems down the line if allowed to fester, and to answer any questions they may have forgotten to ask. Your bottom-line success depends on the lifetime value of your repeat customers, not the one-time spenders. For Black-owned businesses, this can be a make-or-break factor.
Representation Matters on The Front Line
You want your target audience to have the best experience possible, from the front and back of the house, to the top and bottom of the house. They need to feel seen and, more importantly, represented in every aspect of your business. Don’t hire employees based on what you think people want to “see,” or what society has made you feel a business should look like. Hire based on what your target audience needs to connect with you and your products or services. In other words, be sure your employees make each customer feel like the most important person in the room. Because, as far as your business goes, they are!
Are there ways in which you have improved customer service in your business? Let us know in the comments. Maybe someone can use your suggestion to turn their customer experience around.