In a recent interview I was asked how small business owners could use customer service to compete when a large company came to the city. The little man was afraid to be pushed when a large national competitor was known for low pricing in his city. How can he survive? The business strategy that I made when writing this response beyond customer service and is actually a good strategy for the company with any size, not just a small local business.
It has been repeated many times throughout the country – news that the “big box” shop will come to the city to make fear at the hearts of local business owners. How can they compete with low prices and selection offered by people like home depots, Lowe’s, Costco and Sam’s Club? They worry about losing their new customers and interesting ones. They see their limitations – a smaller advertising budget, inventory, purchasing power, and so on. And yes, this might be a valid concern, but they are also just reasons. There are many small businesses that have found a way to survive and develop after a large box store moves in.
In fact, the threat of competition is the same not a problem if a new business in the city is a large box shop, main chain shop, discount shop, or other. It can be an open small business. Whatever your industry, every competing business that moves into your area presents a lot of the same competitive threats.
But there are ways to stay above.
1. Create more than products. This is where customer service plays a role. Small businesses may not be able to offer lower prices for goods and services, so they must offer customers another advantage. With consistently providing higher level of customer service and better customer experience, businesses can distance themselves from competition.
2. Offering unique products or services. There is a small hardware store that is always busy despite the fact that it is only at the end of the road from the home depot. It studies competition and offers products that are not given a large box store. The strategy has worked well so that the home depot will refer customers to a hardware store for non-stock items.
3. Tell customers about the advantages you offer. You know your business. You can see that you still have advantages to offering that competition is not. In addition to customer service and the products and services you sell, what else does it really separate you from your competitors? Tell customers.
4. Active in the community. Open to engage with local charity organizations. For example, sponsor a small league team, or let scout girls or other groups sell cakes, candy bars or grilling sales of goods outside your store on Saturday morning. This can extend beyond local community settings depending on the company’s market – the scope of involvement can become local, national, even global.
5. Let the customer be happy to be your advocate. Keep in touch with customers and involve them in helping to promote your business. Take advantage of all forms of appropriate communication – letters, emails, social media, etc.
6. Take advantage of loyalty programs. This can be a formal loyalty program that offers incentives to continue to do business with you, such as airline offers and hotels. Or, here is an extraordinary place of customer service also playing. Make your customers feel very special, they will not consider doing business with others.