Monday, November 13, 2000
Small Business: Being Small Gives You Big Advantages
Have you ever found yourself being embarrassed to tell clients you're a small business? Ever tried to look bigger than you really are? I think every small company has. But why?
Maybe it's because giant corporations are looked to as leaders. They are the ones that set the pace and call the shots, so to speak. Not really. Large corporations are usually the ones who deliver the weakest customer service. They are the ones that you have a difficult time reaching by email or phone. They are the ones that transfer you from department to department because they aren't sure who handles that "area."
If you are a small business, be proud! There are some distinct and impressive advantages to being small. Let's look at just a few of them and discuss how to get the most powerful benefits from your position.
The Bigger They Are The Slower They Move
What is one of the biggest customer service complaints? Lack of speed when correcting a problem. Large corporations often stumble horribly in this area. Because of their policies and procedures, because they have to go through such a lengthy chain of command, large businesses often take an extended period of time to react to customer complaints.
Not you! You're a small business owner. You can handle clients' questions and concerns immediately. You have the power to address your customers' needs as soon as they arise. That's a big plus!
Our Policy States…
It doesn't matter what the policy states. If a customer isn't happy, explaining that your policy was created for their protection doesn't hold much weight. A dissatisfied customer forced to deal with policy instead of people will leave.
But the small business can make concessions. The small business can adjust immediately. If the policy is doing more harm than good, the small business can just toss it out the window and create a new one. No major corporation can do that without holding a month's worth of board meetings and passing the new policy through the legal department... twice.
Personal Attention Wins Every Time
One continuous complaint customers have is that companies don't seem to care whether the customer does business with them or not. A large firm's idea of personal attention is to create form letter programs that automatically insert your name beside the word "Dear."
Small business owners know better. You can provide personal attention because you actually know your customers. The phrase, "But I've been doing business with this company since 1983," really means something to a small business. The clerk at your hometown location of a nationwide department store is much less likely to care.
This is an extremely important advantage to being small; show them you care by offering sincere personal attention.
Decisions Get Made... NOW
I had an experience once where I had to wait for the district manager to return from out of town before I could talk with anyone about a change I wanted to make. Can you imagine? The change needed to be made immediately, but I had to wait because of this company's inflexible chain-of-command.
Customer service-oriented businesses are not that way. One distinct advantage of being small is that decisions can get addressed immediately. This is extremely beneficial for every aspect of your company... billing policies, new product decisions, right down to when to hold the annual holiday party.
I could go on and on about the advantages of being small. These points are only the tip of the iceberg. While big corporations do have their advantages, small businesses can out maneuver and out service them every time!
So the next time someone asks what you do... look them straight in the eye and proudly say, "I'm a small business owner!"
Karon Thackston is owner and president of KT & Associates, which offers targeted copywriting, copy editing and ghostwriting services.
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