Small Businesses and Customer Service

Small businesses are really competitive. If you own or work for one, you probably know. A search on Google Maps for the keyword “lawyers near 10023” produces 87,993 results. Somewhat competitive, eh? Accountants, florists, small shops, builders, etc. are all very competitive businesses. There are lots of people doing each one of those things and it can be very tough to set yourself apart.

Can you think of a way to set your small business apart from the other ones? How about great customer service? When done right, it has the potential to work very well.

As a small business, your company has some advantages over larger businesses:

  • You can give more personalized attention to your customers.
  • You can keep track of your customers better, allowing you to be more pro-active.
  • You have better control over who you hire and how well they do.
  • It is easier to ingrain customer service into your culture.
  • It is easier to refine the customer service experience and your customer service processes.

Those are things that companies have problems with as they get larger. Getting larger has its advantages as well, but as a small business, you have the potential to be nimble and efficient.

And the exact opposite can apply as well. If your company is small, in a highly competitive business, and does not provide good customer service, it is at an extreme disadvantage. The disadvantage is having no advantages, which hardly is enough to set you apart.

Here are some tips for small businesses to use their advantages to provide great customer service:

  • Try and learn customers’ names. Pay attention to little personal details that customers will tell you. Make a note of little things that make a big difference (look through Service Untitled’s archives for ideas). Use them when talking to and working with customers.
  • Look at your customers’ records, accounts, profiles, etc. fairly frequently (quarterly, weekly, etc. – it all depends on the type of service you provide or product you sell) and see if there are any opportunities to help the customer and be pro-active.
  • Pay careful attention to hiring and training. Watch how well employees perform, how they fit in with your company culture, concentrate on training (mentor training works great for small businesses), have informative documentation, etc.
  • Make customer service a big part of your company’s culture. Promote it, talk about how important it is, etc.
  • Constantly pay attention to how your company functions. Go through the entire customer experience (as previously discussed) and see where you can improve and what you can still do better.

Do you have any ideas as to how small businesses can use customer service to their advantage? Does your small business do anything that exemplifies great customer service?

One Response to “Small Businesses and Customer Service”

  1. Service Untitled » The Disadvantage in Numbers - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Feb 02, 07 at 12:49 pm

    […] The bigger your company gets, the worse the customer service will get. There is actually, in most cases, a disadvantage in numbers. As I mentioned in my post about small businesses and customer service, smaller businesses have an advantage over larger ones because they can give more personalized attention.  […]