I recently saw a series of television advertisements for a large business touting their customer service. The commercial starts with a customer relating a story about good customer service they received. Then the employee and the customer, often with tears streaming down their faces, talk about how special their encounter was. This large company has to demonstrate, sell their customer service to us.
Why? My theories - First, because it is not the norm. Consider the last time you conducted business with a large company. I'm sure the employees were nice, probably thanked you for doing business with them. Chances are it sounded mechanical, the same you've heard every time you visited the business. Second, because big business is not truly customer service focused. Think of how many large companies you see advertising their customer service. In defense of big business, customer service is difficult because their employees don't have an immediate investment in whether or not you are happy.
In big business, customer service for employees is dictated by rules and regulations. They only need to meet the minimum requirements set by company policies and procedures The employees are a small cog in a large wheel. They don't have skin in the game!
Big business also works on averages. With a large customer base, having 5% unsatisfied customers is a win. What if you are one of those 5% of customers? Keep in mind, that 5% is thousands of unsatisfied customers.
Small businesses thrive on providing great customer service. They know their livelihood depends on repeat business, providing goods and services that meet the needs of the customer. Small business owners can see the immediate, negative impacts of providing bad customer service. Just one bad event can drop their sales. Their reputation IS their business, their livelihood.
Small businesses are often a member of the community they serve whether it is a small geographical area, or a small niche market that can stretch worldwide. They know they have a greater chance of encountering one of their customers again in the future.
Next time you are considering a purchase or contracting for services, seek out a small business. Providing great customer service is one area that big business just can not compete with small business. Think about it - Big business spends millions in advertising to demonstrate they have great customer service!!
You may pay a little more for a specific service with a small business because they don't work on big business averages of bulk purchasing economies, but you get so much more when buy goods or services from a small business. Consider that you are directly investing in a community as well.
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