When I worked in big corporates we looked down on small and medium size organisations.
Working in a big company just bred a certain arrogance; we ‘knew’ we could do everything better. We used our muscle to buy more cheaply from suppliers and we could sell more cheaply too – if we wanted to. Our products and services were more easily and readily available. We could afford the latest technology. We attracted the best and most talented people because we offered better pay, more benefits, a training plan and promotion prospects.
The tide is turning.
Today it’s better to be an SME.
Today being a big company is a problem.
Technology is no longer a barrier to entry, products and processes are more easily ‘copied’. Small organisations can compete with big organisations on everything from price, quality and in recruiting staff. And when it comes to customer experience – they’re outclassing them.
Research suggests, even in this climate, that price is not top of the customers wish list especially when it comes to selling B2B.
Customers still want value for money but expressed as a combination of personal, friendly and polite service, knowledgeable and available staff, responsive after sales support and finally price.
Customer service has never been more important to customers (and businesses). The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that 68% of those surveyed in the UK spent more with a company when they had good customer experience.
The best organisations recognise that really good service can’t be achieved by just following a process or supplying a product. That just makes you the same as everyone else. Your reputation for service comes from the whole customer experience and is reliant on the day to day activities of each and everyone of your employees. Successful organisations understand that to deliver consistently good service that wows their customers then they have to wow their employees first!
Big companies have traditionally seen the customer service department as an overhead, the place customers go when things go wrong. Their emphasis has been on decreasing costs by implementing automated call centres or out-sourcing the function overseas. Their size means that they are slow to adapt to these changes.
Smaller organisations are in their element. They can and are reacting to changing customers demands. They are flexible enough to ensure that everything they do is based around doing the very best for their customers.
Based on your experience, how much do you agree or disagree that each of the following accurately describes customer service in small businesses?
- 71% agree that small businesses know their business/product better than large companies
- 74% They understand their customer better than large companies
- 81% provide a more personal customer service experience than large companies
Considering a small independently-owned business and large company that both provide excellent customer service – which type of company are you willing to spend more with?
- 48% Willing to spend more with a small business
- 7% Willing to spend more with a large company
- 44% No difference
(2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer -UK)
Small companies are winning customers because they’re good not because they’re big.
Does your organisation still think big is best?
Do you know what kind of service your customers want?
As an employer are you giving your people the kind of employee experience that encourages, enables and motivates them to provide the best customer experience?