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Rhea Freeman of the Small & Supercharged Podcast: “Minimize friction”

Minimize friction. Whatever you’re doing in your business, whatever part of the customer journey, think ‘how can I make it easier’. Having to start an account to buy a small, one off item is a pain in the neck. Making it hard to work out shipping costs is not going to help you make sales. […]

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Minimize friction. Whatever you’re doing in your business, whatever part of the customer journey, think ‘how can I make it easier’. Having to start an account to buy a small, one off item is a pain in the neck. Making it hard to work out shipping costs is not going to help you make sales. Making complaints take a lot longer than they need or should. Not keeping people informed. Anything that takes additional time or energy or makes a customer’s life harder needs to be looked at.


As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Freeman.

Rhea Freeman is a social media expert and small business coach based in the UK. In addition to running membership groups, Rhea is also the founder of the Small & Supercharged Podcast and a Facebook group of the same name designed to help small businesses and influencers in the equestrian and rural space. She’s an award winning PR adviser, #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer and Facebook Certified Lead Trainer.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I got started in PR some 15 year ago because I simply saw a gap in the market. In my niche, I work with a lot of equestrian and rural small businesses, and inside the connected publications, there were a lot of editorial opportunities that were simply not being utilized by businesses. So I set up to address this issue, helping to get my clients more column inches in the relevant publications. Over time, social media started to grow more and more from a brand point of view, and as my whole business was set up to make more of ‘free’ opportunities, I started to research this a whole lot more. Over the last, probably ten or eleven years, I’ve focused a lot more on social media, simply because of the incredible opportunities it holds for small businesses, and the amazing results I’ve seen when used well. I’m also not a #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer and a Facebook Certified Lead Trainer.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I think I’ve blocked out anything too horrific! I try really hard (and sometimes it takes a LOT) to turn any mistakes into a learning experiences. I guess one I constantly fear is a really bad typo. Tired eyes and reading what you think is there rather than what IS there can be a lethal combination. I’m lucky not to have had anything too horrific, but it’s always on my mind!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

It’s probably my husband actually. He doesn’t work in my industry at all, but has learnt how to edit videos and podcasts (and he does mine, which is brilliant). He’s also very useful when it comes to applying a bit of logic to a situation, or just a general ‘you know this isn’t as bad as it seems, right?!’. He’s very good when it comes to tactfully nudging me towards things I should be doing, and also things I perhaps shouldn’t be, which is useful.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

It’s what separates the good from the great, and more than this, isn’t a great way for small businesses to get an advantage over the bigger ones. Often small businesses don’t have the budgets, manpower or infrastructure of their much larger rivals, and if they’re selling similar products, it can be difficult to compete. But one of the ways they can really win is by providing an exceptional customer experience. And more than this, looking after customers will also help to develop loyalty and other support which can help to propel a business forward.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

Often customer service is delivered by one person (in store), one person answering emails online, or maybe even a corporate policy. As we are all human, it could be, quite simply, that the person has had an awful day and you as the customer have managed to push all their buttons and they’ve responded in a less than ideal way. They may not have the ‘power’ to be able to resolve as issue as you would like. Or the policies of the company they work for might have been interpreted in a less than human way. You may also have encountered someone who is simply there to earn money and leave the second they’re allowed. I think for larger businesses, it must be challenging to give people enough flexibility to serve customers well while maintaining a unified approach.

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

I do. If you can buy the same product at the same price from two places, who are you going to pick? The one who has appalling customer service or the one who tries really hard to help you? It’s a no brainer really.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

I think, for me, I’m always surprised with how people respond to the simple gestures. A nice (and often inexpensive) thing through the post to say ‘well done’, a DM that I didn’t ‘need’ to send to check in on someone. It’s not the big, flash gestures that are needed to help people feel seen, heard and appreciated.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

When you do a nice thing for someone, it gives them the loveliest boost which makes you feel great, but also means that the people they encounter throughout their day are likely to have positive experiences too. I’m super lucky that I work with the best people in the business, and because I have put the work into these relationships, they tend to promote me whenever they can. And that is the loveliest feeling. When there is no obligation for them to do anything and yet they do.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

Don’t underestimate the simple things — just being nice, not starting on the defensive, listening, and showing respect can go a long way, even if you can’t reach the conclusion that the customers wants you to get to.

Add the personal touch — if you can, something as simple as a handwritten note can elevate your customer service because the customer really believes that you can. You took the time to write a note and that really matters. I’ve seen so many handwritten notes appear on my various social media feeds from people who are just delighted to receive them, it’s untrue.

Empower your people to do the right thing. I was reading something a while ago that explained how one company gave their employees the freedom to resolve issues as long as that resolution fell below a certain monetary value. I thought this was a great idea because it not only shows trust in the employees but it allows resolutions to be reached in a shorter time period, which is a win.

Minimize friction. Whatever you’re doing in your business, whatever part of the customer journey, think ‘how can I make it easier’. Having to start an account to buy a small, one off item is a pain in the neck. Making it hard to work out shipping costs is not going to help you make sales. Making complaints take a lot longer than they need or should. Not keeping people informed. Anything that takes additional time or energy or makes a customer’s life harder needs to be looked at.

The experience. I mentioned handwritten notes, but in the social media world we live in today, the experience can’t be underestimated, and can actually help gain new business too, as your happy customers are likely to share their experience online. Beautiful packaging, extra treats, sharing customer images on social media feeds (with permission) all help to build a simple purchase into a full on, immersive experience.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

At the moment, people will share acts of kindness, great customer service and outstanding experience online, on their social media platforms. Tap into these and make these a key part of what you offer.

My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Get your personality out there, because that is what makes you and your business unique, and that is what people will buy into. You can use all your marketing channels to very clearly speak to you target audience. You can actively engage with them. You can delight them using experiences online and offline that larger companies simply can’t do because they are targeting larger groups. You don’t need to do that- you can focus on and ace your niche, and make an incredible business serving ‘your people’.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would really like people to really try and apply the #BeKind idea across everything, not just social media, and not adding that hashtag to posts because it feels on trend. Being kind doesn’t have to be big gestures — in fact, it can sometimes be walking away from a ‘debate’ or taking a moment before responding to something.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/rheafreemanpr

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/rheafreemanpr

Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/rheafreeman

LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/in/rheafreeman/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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