*This blog was first published March 24, 2015 and has been updated for 2021.

Listening and thus responding to your customers allow you to connect with their thinking points. Owning a small business can be tough, especially when compared to the advantages enjoyed by a larger competitor. Large businesses usually have more resources, more personnel and other advantages in the marketplace. However, there is one area in which small businesses have a distinct advantage. That is that there are far fewer layers between you and your customers. In fact, for most small businesses, there are no layers at all between a small business owner and their customers!

But, simply being closer to your customers and even personally listening and responding to their feedback may not be as valuable as it could be. You have to be ready and able to solicit their feedback, listen to it and quickly turn it around into positive action.

Emails Make a Personal Connect

There are many resources for effective email marketing available online, and Neil Patel offers a beginner’s guide that’s quite good. Many small business owners make the mistake of only utilizing the same tools and procedures to connect with a small group of clients that larger businesses use to connect with a much larger base of clients.

Don’t just use email tools and services to send out newsletters and marketing emails. Connect with clients and customers individually after a sale or service to ensure that they are satisfied. Most importantly, personally follow up with clients or customers who have offered a suggestion or complaint and explain how you used their feedback to improve a product or service. Demonstrate that you are listening and responding, and they will be much more likely to become repeat customers.

Listening Carefully to Customer Surveys

Larger businesses often use surveys simply as a tool to measure client satisfaction. Most surveys are quickly and automatically scored simply “by the numbers.” As a small business owner, you have the ability to take client surveys further by tailoring the questions and, soliciting personal comments and suggestions on ways to improve your business. The trick is to personally read and respond to the feedback that you receive. You know your customers better than anyone, and you should apply that knowledge into crafting insightful questions that will solicit better responses.

Empower Your Employees

Larger companies often have strict policies for dealing with customer feedback and complaints. Most large companies don’t have an effective system in place for employees to forward customer feedback up the “chain of command.” As a small business owner, you are in a unique position of not being held back by such constraints. Empower your salespeople and employees to immediately address reasonable client feedback by responding to their concerns. By staying in close contact with your customer-facing employees, you can also quickly and easily collect feedback and act on that feedback in a timely manner.

In one of our last blogs we discussed how clients are drawn to personal experiences and personal connections. If you can find a way to use your own personal brand to convey your experience, you will enhance the power of your business and grow a more loyal customer base.

*Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels