In a world dominated by large corporations and powerful businesses it can be hard for the little guy to survive. The latest figures on startup survival rate are constantly changing, but you can be sure that over 90% of businesses will fail to survive their first 3 years of trading. There’s a whole host of reasons why these young businesses fail, but we won’t be going into detail on any of them in this blog. What I want to focus on today are the 10% that do survive, and what they are doing that leads to their success. What’s their secret? There’s no right or wrong answer to that question. It could be their adaptability, their innovation, their luck. The truth is it’s probably different for every business. But there is one factor of success that I believe every business needs in its early stages to make it stand out from the giants and float to the top – excellent customer service.
Excellent customer service is something that every company in existence should strive for. I’d be amazed if you could find evidence of a business owner who claimed not to care about their customers. But customer service is also the one area where small businesses have a distinct advantage. As a company grows and scales, they begin to lose control over their customer service. As more employees join the company, the company values get diluted and watered down to a point where they aren’t even noticeable anymore. If you have 50,000 employees all representing your brand, it’s a guarantee that at least some of them won’t align with the business ethics. With a small business however, they remain in control over how their brand is perceived. This gives them the upper hand, and it’s one of the few areas that small businesses can do better than big businesses, which is why I believe it is so important.
So how do small businesses ensure that their customer service stands out? It’s about going above and beyond the customers’ expectations. If a customer expects a certain level of service then it’s not going to be meaningful. The business needs to exceed that expectation for it to truly have an impact. There are many ways to do this and many companies out there display excellent examples of this level of service. If I had a magic bullet solution I’d be a very wealthy man, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The most important part is to treat the customer like a person, and not just another sale. Anything that makes them feel appreciated contributes to a better level of service and a higher chance of customer retention.
If you’re a business owner I hope that gives you something to think about. And if you’re a consumer I hope you continue to support the businesses that are providing excellent customer service. You hold the power as the consumer, and by rewarding those businesses who are providing the best customer service you are forcing others to do the same, which is beneficial for everyone.