Woman bending down at her doorstep retrieving boxes.
Sharpening your business's customer service and adopting a "customer-centric" approach can be a catalyst for new business opportunities as well as growth and expansion. — Getty Images/South_agency

Customer service and satisfaction are vital for the long-term success of any company. Adopting a customer-centric approach — in which the customer and their needs come first — can help small businesses achieve brand loyalty and stand out from competitors.

Prioritizing the customer experience has helped New York-based Rachel Cho Floral Design better serve its client base and expand nationally over the past few years. Prior to 2020, the floral design company conducted 100% of its business in New York City, providing floral arrangements for various events in the area. However, with the pandemic putting a pause on many in-person gatherings, the business needed to pivot its operations to meet customers’ changing needs.

During this time, Rachel Cho Floral Design participated in a FedEx customer service pilot program to help the team better understand and meet the needs of their current and future customers. The company began creating floral arrangements that could be shipped nationwide, then collaborated with FedEx to bring beautiful blooms across the United States.

The FedEx customer service pilot program provided the Rachel Cho team with valuable insights and positive outcomes in improving the client experience. Peter Hein, Chief Operating Officer of Rachel Cho Floral Design, discussed the importance of focusing on customers, how working with FedEx facilitated great customer service, and how small businesses can adopt a more customer-focused approach.

[Read More: What Is ‘Customer Stickiness’ and How Can it Benefit Your Business?]

Why focusing on customers matters for small businesses

According to Hein, an exceptional product is “a given” when it comes to gaining a foothold in the marketplace. Providing an equally exceptional customer experience is just as important, if not more so, if you want to stand out from your competitors.

“Being there for your clients and supporting them along the way truly elevates the experience and delivers a different kind of value,” he explained.

In working with FedEx’s customer service pilot program, Hein and his team discovered firsthand the different levels of service a company can offer — and the importance of providing that premium level of service, no matter the time and energy cost.

“With all the priorities and challenges that face a small business every day, sometimes it’s hard to quantify the tangible value in spending the extra time, attention, and cost that it takes to differentiate your customer service,” emphasized Hein. “But over the long term, this is the thing that really makes the difference, and will help [your business] retain and grow client relationships.”

[Read More: 6 Effective Tips for Getting to Know Your Customers]

Being there for your clients and supporting them along the way truly elevates the experience and delivers a different kind of value.

Peter Hein, Chief Operating Officer, Rachel Cho Floral Design

Positive outcomes from a customer-centric approach

During the pandemic, Rachel Cho Floral Design faced multiple logistical challenges in pivoting its operations. The company needed to first determine how to adjust its existing offerings to meet the needs of its current customers, along with others who might benefit from their bespoke blooms.

Once the Rachel Cho team decided to offer nationwide shipping on floral arrangements, they also needed to determine how to deliver flowers quickly without sacrificing product quality. Amid this growth, the company would also need to provide high levels of customer service to bring in new and repeat clients.

Since working with FedEx, Rachel Cho Floral Design has not only successfully expanded its operations, but has also provided premium customer service along the way. Some positive outcomes of adopting this customer-centric approach include:

  • Growing to serve a national customer base. According to Hein, the pandemic forced Rachel Cho Floral Design to “find a new way to reach people with flowers.” What began as a pivot has become a core competency and service of the company, allowing customers across the United States to receive thoughtfully designed floral arrangements.
  • New business opportunities. Since launching national shipping, the company has maintained and built upon this offering, particularly with brand activations and product launch campaigns across the country. “In the past, we could only handle local New York City,” explained Hein. “Now, we can take on the entire U.S. campaign, all from our studio in NYC.”
  • Peace of mind about the delivery process. Hein emphasized the importance of “perfect” delivery of flowers, noting that “if flowers don’t arrive quickly, on time, and with care, then they won’t survive the journey.” To meet that need, Rachel Cho Floral Design exclusively uses FedEx small business shipping services, citing the company’s approach to service and quality. “Working with FedEx gives us the trust and comfort that we can get things where they need to be, when they need to be there,” Hein added.

In addition to bringing customer-focused nationwide shipping, Rachel Cho Floral Design’s collaboration with FedEx has also yielded additional benefits. Through working with FedEx, the floral design company was invited to participate in FedEx’s customer service pilot program, and Hein was invited to join the rotating FedEx Entrepreneur Advisory Board.

[Read More: Start. Run. Grow. Mastering the Customer Experience]

Becoming more customer-centric

Participating in FedEx’s customer service pilot program has helped bring significant and lasting growth to Rachel Cho Floral Design. For small businesses looking to become more customer-centric, Hein offers one key piece of advice: put the time and effort into providing high-end service, which will differentiate you from other businesses providing similar products or services.

“There’s so many of us out there who do or make wonderful things,” emphasized Hein. “What can set you apart is the service you provide along with those things.”

He added that, when determining whether to patronize a business, prospective clients want to know: “Why you?” In other words, why should they choose your brand over others like it?

To answer that question, Hein advised, “Show them.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.