“The customer is always right.” While business owners have undoubtedly heard that phrase many times, just about everyone has seen videos of customers behaving badly. From rioting on airplanes to mistreating grocery store workers, customers have proven time and time again that this well-worn saying is often incorrect. However, there’s still a lot of good that can come out of empowering your customers, especially as a small business owner. When your clients feel truly empowered by working with you, they are far more likely to come back to you again in the future. Better yet, they’ll likely refer you to others in their circle, as well. There’s a fine line to walk to ensure you empower your customers without losing control of how you run your business. But do it right, and you can have confidence that you’ll satisfy every one of your clients. Optimize your services based on customer needs. The needs of your customers will undoubtedly change over time. This is especially true today with the rate that technology is changing how we interact with the world around us. You might even find yourself expanding to new customer groups as you grow your business. This became especially clear during an email conversation with Becky Moore, writer, photographer and founder of Global Grasshopper. She explained, “I started doing a travel blog because of my own wanderlust. While the blog provided valuable information to other would-be travelers, I’ve since been able to collaborate with countless brands on tourism-related campaigns as they look for relatable ways to promote their destinations. That initial goal of helping other travelers remains in place, but by paying attention to the market, we’ve also been able to expand into brand marketing as well.” A willingness to change your services based on identifiable client needs ultimately empowers your customers by helping them better meet their goals — a sure way to get them to continue working with you in the future. Provide self-service options whenever possible. People are coming to you for a reason: They need help. At the same time, many customers aren’t entirely willing to give up their sense of independence. This is why self-checkout lines are so popular at grocery stores and other retailers — because customers often like to do things themselves, even if the employee running the cash register would still be more efficient. As such, whenever possible, you should help your customers feel like they’re in control by allowing them to “self-serve.” If they want to navigate your entire website and schedule a consultation without making a phone call, you should definitely give them the option to do so. You can also help customers self-serve by providing a FAQ or support page that addresses common questions and concerns. When clients feel like they can figure out problems or get answers without needing to call or email you, they’ll have a more favorable impression of your business — and you’ll save time. As digital marketing entrepreneur Neil Patel notes, a FAQ page can also boost your SEO: “By default, your frequently asked questions, and their associated answers, are full of relevant keywords and phrases that your target audience is probably searching for. You can capture longtail keywords in ways that are natural and human, rather than keyword stuffing. These question-and-answer layouts are also a good way to snag the featured snippets Google provides in their search results.” Be open to feedback. The idea of getting genuine and potentially critical feedback can be frightening to many entrepreneurs. Like it or not, customers feel greatly empowered by the ability to leave reviews for the businesses they interact with on Google or Yelp. However, you don’t want to discover that someone had a negative experience with you after you read their review on Google. While engaging with a customer by responding to their review can help mitigate the damage (especially if they’re willing to update their review), brands can’t expect those bad reviews to disappear. It can be far more beneficial to you and the customer when you reach out to them directly to ask about their experience — both the pros and the cons. By letting your clients know that you take their feedback seriously and that you’re committed to improving your services, your customers will feel like they are helping to shape your business for the better. This proactive outreach will also give you a vital opportunity to solve customer issues before they result in a negative online review for the world to see. If you’re willing to listen to customers with genuine, authentic feedback, you’ll often find helpful tidbits for how you can do better. Better yet, this practice can also help you collect positive testimonials from satisfied clients who might otherwise not have published a review online. Empowering to create a win-win. No matter what type of services you provide, creating a high-quality experience for your customers is ultimately what will keep you in business. By helping clients feel truly empowered when they work with you, you can improve satisfaction and retention rates, while also ensuring that you are fully meeting their wants and needs. When you empower your clients, you will end up making your job easier, because you’ll better understand how to serve them. That’s going to pay big dividends in the long run.