Now that people are once again regularly engaging in face-to-face transactions, creating a positive customer experience is imperative to keeping current customers and attracting new ones.

A quote from the famous poet Maya Angelou captures how my team and I feel about creating a positive customer experience: “People may forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Delivering a consistently positive customer experience is a top priority for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that recognize that the experience directly impacts customer loyalty.

A field experience survey was recently conducted with SMB marketers to learn the strategies used to create a stronger, more positive customer experience.

Here’s what the final report, titled The Small Business Perspective on Customer Experience, found:

81 percent of SMB marketers said improving customer retention and satisfaction is one of their primary objectives. Other goals were increasing the value and reliability to customers (58 percent), increasing data-driven personalization in outreach (23 percent) and improving interactive design and ease of use (22 percent).

Nearly all (98 percent) small business marketers would consider implementing a customer experience strategy successful at achieving those primary objectives, with more than half (51 percent) describing their success as best-in-class, compared to their competitors.

The most effective tactics used for improving the customer experience were customer feedback collection (59 percent), content personalization (44 percent), social media engagement (39 percent), brand building campaigns (28 percent) and loyalty or rewards programs (24 percent).

Marketers recognize the value of investing in the customer experience; 71 percent said they expected the total budget (time, resources, costs) to increase moderately in the coming year.

85 percent of SMB marketers are tracking metrics with some degree of consistency to determine the success of their strategies, with 44 percent saying that their metrics are continuously monitored to gauge improvement.

Having a regularly measured plan in place to market, sell and engage with current and future customers is the first step to creating an experience that keeps them coming back and building both loyalty and revenue streams.

Todd Hinson is the owner of Allegra Marketing Print Mail in Rocky Mount.