In a recent study of 3,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K, more than 70% of people said they expect personalized experiences when they interact with brands. Customers don’t just want a personal experience from businesses, they expect it. This is where small business enters the picture.
Small businesses are uniquely equipped to offer personal and empathetic customer experiences. Anthony Tjan, CEO, Managing Partner, and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball, says, “Too much customer service — especially in large companies — has devolved to standard operating procedures and scripted answers delivered with artificial calmness. To an upset customer, these automated responses often seem inappropriate or absurd.”
It’s difficult for large businesses to motivate lower-level employees to offer personalized and meaningful customer service. In fact, a recent study found that large companies have difficulty “providing the right incentives for lower-level employees to create value. And as long as bureaucracy, corporate politics, and internal rivalries are present in big firms, smaller companies will be able to exploit the resulting inefficiencies and thrive.”
For many small businesses, customer service is an easy inefficiency to remedy. By emphasizing sincere empathy over indifference and common sense over operating procedures, small business owners gain an edge over their big business competitors. In the eyes of the customer demanding good customer service, the smaller guy can take the lead even without competitive prices.
Another way small businesses gain advantages over big companies is in communication across departments. Better communication between the sales and marketing department, for example, often leads to increased lead conversions.
Bigger companies struggle with interdepartmental communication because their sheer size necessitates that various parts of the organization be split into manageable chunks. This leads to informational silos that leave departments entirely focused on their own goals instead of on the good of the company.
Entrepreneurs who recognize and leverage the advantages they have over big business will find greater success than those who assume that corporate America will always have a leg up. When small business owners play to strengths like offering personalized service and fostering ongoing communication, both customer and employee satisfaction increase.