4 Ways Small Business Owners Can Learn More About Their Customers
Registration forms are a core component of many small businesses' operating practices. Whether you use online waivers or paper contact forms, registering clients not only allows your business to handle day-to-day operations but also sets you up to grow your client base.
The information you collect in your registration forms provides insight into your regular customers, helping you identify who is coming to your business and why. This means that an optimized registration process creates a more convenient experience for your customers and allows you to gather data that can help drive important business decisions down the road.
Whether you’re starting a new business or have been running your small business for years, you can likely improve how you interact with clients through your registration forms. To help optimize your client registration process, this article will explore four tips small business owners can use to learn more about their customers:
- Create customer profiles.
- Prioritize customer convenience.
- Invest in the right software for your business.
- Dedicate the time to onboard your employees.
As you read through these tips, keep in mind that registration tools and collected data are only as useful as you make them. These strategies will set your business up to gather key information, but it’ll be up to you and your staff to put that information to use in meaningful ways that deepen customer relationships.
1. Create customer profiles.
Your business will ideally have many customers—likely too many for you to keep track of without help. However, you’ll want to store your customers’ information and make sure it’s organized in such a way that no two customers will be mistaken for each other. Additionally, no matter how many customers you have, you’ll want to make sure each is treated as an individual. This is where your customer profiles come in.
The exact content of your customer profiles will vary based on your business, but a few staples most small businesses should be sure to track are:
- Address and contact information. Making sure you can get in touch with your customers is vital for appointment-based businesses, so make sure your customer profiles are always up-to-date with your clients’ phone numbers and email. In addition, taking note of their address will help your marketing outreach, allowing you to send coupons, special offers, or other marketing materials through the mail.
- History with your business. Make note of each transaction with customers, how long they’ve been with your business, and any satisfaction scores they’ve given you. This is especially useful for businesses that want to establish membership plans or customer loyalty programs.
- Preferences and interests. Similar to their history with your business, make note of preferences or specific interests customers have shown while engaging with your business. Doing so will help you tailor your marketing to each customers’ needs. For example, pet grooming businesses should take note of the services each customer requests and any noted preferences. Then, at their next visit you’ll already know what kind of grooming they’re looking for and be able to get to work without them needing to explain it.
By creating customer profiles, you’ll be able to track all of your customers’ information, creating a seamless experience throughout their entire relationship with your business from the moment they enter their information online. Customer profiles are especially useful for businesses that have membership programs like gyms or require detailed medical and contact information like tours and other activities that need release forms.
2. Prioritize customer convenience.
While your registration process provides key information for the internal side of your business, you can only collect the information you need if you have a streamlined external registration process. Lengthy and confusing registration forms can lead to form abandonment and result in less information coming in overall.
You can create a secure, convenient registration experience for your customers by:
- Reducing data entry. Re-entering information can slow down the registration process significantly. You can reduce data entry by integrating your registration forms, waivers, and payment processor into one seamless process. Gingr’s blog post on integrated payment processing estimates that the right integrated payment processor can reduce transaction times by up to 50%.
- Integrating forms into your website. Customers today are wary of scams and may hesitate to enter their sensitive financial and contact information into your online registration form. This is especially true if your forms open in a new window or navigate users away from the rest of your website. Offer integrated forms so customers never doubt who they’re giving their information to.
- Offering on-site registration. Mobile and online registration are a must for modern businesses. However, businesses located off the grid like tours and adventure parks can benefit from having on-site registration options. Consider investing in kiosks or keeping paper registration on forms for walk-ins or as a back-up if something goes wrong with your online system.
Additionally, while it might be tempting to collect as much information about your customers as possible from your registration process, try to keep your forms short. Registration and payment forms that are over a page in length can seem unnecessary and result in abandoned forms. Show your customers you value their time by only asking for necessary information when they register.
3. Invest in the right software for your business.
While you can purchase registration and customer management software built for most businesses, you might also be surprised at the industry and business specific options available. You may need to collect more information than the options provided by generic registration form software. As you fine tune your registration process, a few additional software solutions to consider are:
- Waivers. Businesses with services or products that pose risk to customers need waivers. Luckily, innovative waiver software (like Smartwaiver!) exists to streamline the signing and management processes and align with your business’s requirements.
- Business specific solutions. From dance studios to pet groomers, many businesses have software created just for them. For example, a dog daycare may be able to treat dogs as clients using a generic registration software, or they could invest in dog daycare software essentials for a solution that caters to their unique needs, such as recording vaccines and dog behavioral notes.
- Conditional logic forms. While not a separate type of software, registration forms with conditional logic help businesses who need to ask lots of questions keep their forms short and to the point. Conditional logic uses guests’ previous answers to determine whether or not show them the next question on the form. For example, a pet groomer might start their form by asking whether the pet coming in is a dog or cat. Users that select “dog” will be prompted to input its breed, while cat owners can continue on without seeing that question.
Equipping your team with the right tools is critical for ensuring effective business practices as well as positive client experiences. As you build out your software toolkit, these three items can offer a great starting point.
4. Dedicate the time to onboard your employees.
Your client registration process is only functional if your employees know how to use it. This is especially true for businesses that have invested in new or complex client management software. Even the most tech-savvy employees can rarely master a new software system overnight, so ensure you give them the time to learn and get comfortable with your registration tools.
As you refine your registration process, be sure to consider your employees and take into account:
- How often you change your process. It can be tempting to jump on the newest software solutions as soon as they become available. However, changing up your registration software too often can cause confusion and workplace slowdowns. While changing software can dramatically improve your business operations in the long-run, keep in mind that each time you change software, you’ll need to re-train your employees and account for potential hiccups that might occur as your team learns your new software.
- Reference guides and training materials. Even your most experienced employees may encounter unique situations or run into challenges that require non-intuitive solutions. Make sure your reference guides are easily accessible long after initial training, so all employees can double check walkthroughs in a pinch.
- How onboarding will impact your customers’ experience. While extensive onboarding might seem like an internal issue, slowdowns and the usual errors that accompany learning new software will make it over to your customers’ side of your business. Take into account how much time your team will need to take away from interacting with customers to get up to speed with your new software, and double check your data transfer processes to make sure no customer data gets lost in the move.
According to Double the Donation’s guide to employee engagement, up to 85% of employees are not engaged in their workplaces. While exact reasons for lack of engagement vary from person to person, lack of support is a common factor in reduced employee investment. If you’re going through many changes or asking a lot of your employees to adapt to a new registration process, make sure to provide them the resources and guidance they need to feel supported at your business.
With everything you need to do for your business, creating a streamlined client registration process can easily fall to the wayside. You can get started optimizing your registration process to create a better experience for clients and collect more information on your customer base by researching and investing in the right registration software for your business.