How can you capitalize on the advantage of being a small business, and what strategies do you have in place to effectively fend off a big business?
Small Business Best Strategies
The answers are in how you provide customer service at your small business!
We’ve all been there. On a phone call, on hold with a service company for what seems like ages, only to get connected with a detached person who clearly isn’t too concerned about your situation.
Or that store clerk who is running around and when you finally get their attention, they seem distracted and not really willing to help you.
Most of us have had bad customer service experiences. It’s what drives us to seek out new and better products and services. These bad experiences are becoming increasingly common with large corporations, where the customer is “just a number”.
If you are a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to turn the customer experience around to keep them coming back, to ultimately choose your product or service over the big guys’.
1. Large Corporation Bureacratic Disadvantage
As a small business you are thankfully too small to fall into a bureaucratic trap.
Large corporations, by necessity, have to be compartmentalized and bureaucratic. And when this happens, customer service is likely to suffer, at least somewhat. Their business strategies are broad-based and often fails to recognize things not going well on the front-line of customer service operations. Communication can easily fail when customers are being bounced from one department to another, causing frustration and confusion.
Small businesses have the flexibility to dynamically change as customer’s needs change. They have the ability to provide personalized customer service, tailor-made for a particular customer, any time and all the time.
This can be gold for many consumers who demand top-notch service.
They also have the flexibility to react much quicker to market changes and to target certain kinds of customers. Instead of trying to get legions of employees on board with company changes, there is a much smaller tribe of staff to give direction and to re-train if necessary. This can be a huge hurdle for big corporations, who tend to react much slower to big changes.
Large companies tend to streamline practices to the point where common sense flies out the window. What fits for one customer may not fit at all for another, given the individual’s situation. Small companies are much more personalized and have the incentive to take each customer’s issue on a case-by-case basis. This personalized service almost always results in repeat business.
When you walk into a shop you visit on a regular basis, chances are the staff and/or owners know you by name. That’s important in this age of internet connectivity and short attention spans. The employees know you and by nature, want to help you in the best way they can.
If a question or problem arises that the staff isn’t equipped to handle, it’s fairly easy in small business for that to be directed to the manager or owner for a quick resolution. This is not so true for big businesses, where it can sometimes take days (or longer) to filter through the higher ranks to get to the appropriate person.
Small businesses can also react much quicker to customer feedback. Changes in overall consumer attitudes and economic climates are coming faster than ever, and a lean business can shift gears quite quickly to meet consumer demands.
4. Specialization & Niche
Small businesses are particularly good at filling small niches. Large businesses have trouble filling these niches because they are not high-volume enough, and it would be too much of a strain on their resources to try and fill them. This is where the Mom-and-Pop small business strategies can fill the void. In this way, they can develop a reputation as specialists in a certain product or service and become experts in the field. And perhaps the only game in town.
5. Customer Relationships
Consumers trust small businesses to be more transparent and passionate about their product or service than an employee at a big corporation. The small business employee or owner tends to have more for a vested interest what they do, and that passion comes through when interacting with the customer.
The owner, in particular, most likely has a deep knowledge of their business and is very happy to share that with their employees and definitely the customer. It’s that personal touch that fosters valuable customer relations.
6. It’s Easier to Take Risks
Small businesses can take chances without jeopardizing their livelihood. They can test new products in a smaller market with minimum overhead, observing obstacles and variables before deciding to invest in an idea on a larger scale. They tend to have a closer relationship with their (decidedly) fewer customers, allowing them real-time feedback on new products, and whether or not there is a market for them.
7. The Local Advantage
In addition, there is a movement, especially in larger cities, to buy local. This means from very small, brick-and-mortar shops that deliver personalized service. Buy buying goods and services close to home, it feeds the economy of a community in a very grass-roots way.
The takeaway here is those small businesses have a very real advantage over the big players in personalized service, both from a face-to-face standpoint, over the phone and online. By remaining a smaller entity, it is easier to keep and foster meaningful relationships with their customers.
8. Small Business Empathy
The empathy that many small companies exhibit to their valued customers cannot be overlooked. And that, for many, makes all the difference.