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The customer experience can make or break your business. Small issues that you may not notice could be shopping deal-breakers for some customers, driving down your revenue and leaving your business vulnerable. So it’s essential for small business owners to stay on top of customer experience trends to grow their business.

Check out these 10 trends that are sweeping the nation and learn how you can use them to grow your brand.

1. People Want Experiences, Not Products

It should come as no surprise that one of the first customer experience trends on our list covers experiential marketing. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen used the NFL as an example of a great experiential brand. Most people never go to a game, but they follow teams closely every Sunday. The NFL doesn’t just sell jerseys or shirts, it sells the feeling when your team wins in the final seconds of a playoff game.

Create amazing in-store experiences and focus on how customers feel when they engage your brand to create a positive experience that lasts.

2. Customers Expect In-Store WiFi

A few years ago, WiFi used to be a luxury that stores offered as a shopping perk. Today, however, customers expect stores to provide free WiFi as part of the shopping experience.

Shopify reports that 96% of customers prefer stores to have WiFi, and 60% of customers actually demand in-store WiFi when shopping in a store.

Your customers are more than happy to walk out the door if you’re not providing the connectivity they need.

3. The Right Music Can Grow Your Sales

Customers as a whole enjoy overhead music, but the right music can move shoppers from enjoying the experience to changing their behavior.

Studies have found that playing the right music — curating playlists based off of your brand — can increase sales by more than 9%.

In one restaurant, playing branded music increased the sales of desserts by 15% and side dishes by 11%. Learn how music can affect shoppers so you can choose the right songs to drive sales.

4. Your Shoppers Want to Be Left Alone

While you might think you’re being helpful assisting your customers, you are actually making them incredibly uncomfortable.

Ninety-five percent (95%) of customers say they want to be left alone when shopping, and 85% would rather check prices through a machine rather than ask a store associate.

While your store associates can certainly continue to help customers, invest in technology that makes it easier for people to answer their own questions. A well-built app or website, or an interactive digital display can help customers when they avoid your employees.

5. Personalization Can Win Over Your Customers

While your customers would rather find items themselves, they also want a personalized shopping experience that tailors products and services to their needs.

More than half of customers said personalization is very useful, while customers increase their sales an average of 4.7% when they receive a positive, personal shopping experience.

This data highlights the importance of knowing your customer base and creating a business around what they want. The right items can make a difference between repeat sales and lower retention rates.

6. Customers Care About Your Social and Political Practices

If you’re thinking about taking a stance for or against an issue, consider how your key demographics will respond. Studies have found 87% of customers would choose a brand because a company advocated for something they cared about, while 75% would avoid a company because they disagree about what they stand for.

Our current polarizing landscape is seeping into customer experience trends, and you could win over or isolate a large part of your business by becoming more vocal on what you care about.

7. Most Items Are Still Bought in Brick-and-Mortar Locations

Despite the seemingly gargantuan presence of Amazon and other online retailers, ecommerce sales only make up an average of 10% of total customer purchases each year. Customers still spend the vast majority of their money in stores, with some items, like food and other perishables, remaining vastly unaffected by the online world.

What does this mean for customer experience trends? The right experience and assortment of items will bring people to your store, regardless of how big and imposing the ecommerce world seems.

8. Rewards Programs Boost Sales

There’s a reason why companies from almost all sizes and industries have loyalty rewards programs: customers love them, use them, and return.

Roughly 58% of customers who are members of a rewards program return to the store at least once per month to make a purchase, and 69% of customers consider rewards programs when they make a purchase.

Developing a rewards program for your business can increase the number of sales and the loyalty that customers have for your brand.

9. Employee Satisfaction Increases Customer Satisfaction

Don’t underestimate the power happy employees have on your business. Studies have found that highly-engaged employees will:

  • Improve the brand’s reputation by increasing the number of satisfied customers.
  • Increase retention rates as more satisfied customers means more returning shoppers.
  • Decrease employee churn as engaged employees are less likely to leave.

Going the extra mile to show your employees that you care about them and providing a positive work environment can help you grow your business. After all, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

10. Companies Increasingly Rely on Customer Feedback

At the end of the day, it’s up to shoppers to share their customer experience trends through feedback and reviews. While companies love giving out customer surveys, especially online, they have to be careful about their length.

More than half (52%) of customers say they would not spend more than three minutes filling out a survey and 80% of customers abandon a survey halfway through.

If you want buyers to take your customer surveys, collect it quickly and then use the results to improve your business.

It’s Time to Embrace Customer Experience Trends

From complimentary WiFi to the right music selection, your business will be affected by the trends you follow and the trends you ignore.

To learn more about popular customer experience trends, check out our free guide to in-store marketing. The guide explains how to create exceptional customer experiences and ‘wow’ your customers whether they visit your store or call in.