Customer Service – The #1 Secret Weapon of A Successful Small Business!

I never cease to be amazed at the way many businesses are managed these days. Actually, mismanaged is a much more appropriate word. As an example, let me tell you about a recent experience I had while shopping at a large grocery store one Saturday morning.

This particular store is open 24 hours a day, and Saturday mornings are one of their busier times. That being the case, you would think that the shelves would be well stocked on Saturday morning, right? After all, they should try to ensure that all those anxious weekend customers are able to find every single item they want to purchase, right?

Well, that may be what you and I think, but this store’s management obviously wasn’t spending much time thinking. The cereal aisle had gaping holes where boxes of cereal should have been. In fact, there was only one box of the cereal I wanted to buy, and I had intended to buy four boxes. There were no boxes of quite a few other types of cereal. Tell me; could your business survive by providing 0 – 25% of the total items your customers want to buy?

I stopped in the meat section to look at the bacon (I was looking for a specific type). About fifteen seconds later, a store employee comes over to stock more bacon. Considering that there was already a more than sufficient supply of bacon stocked, her time would have been much better spent by filling-in the gaping holes on the cereal aisle. I don’t think she cared.

Anyway, she literally steps right in front of me and nudges me out of the way. She didn’t say, “Excuse me” or “Can I help you find something?” or anything. She was focused on stocking that bacon regardless of how many bothersome customers she had to knock out of her way. She was rude and her behavior reflected poorly on this store.

Have you ever asked a large department or discount store employee a question about a product? I have, and in almost all cases, I’ve discovered that I knew more about the product than they did. It’s quite frustrating.

Recently, I was shopping in the clothes section of a department store, and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I mentioned it to the store associate who was working in that department. How did he respond?

He acted like he couldn’t have cared less. He seemed bored at the thought of even discussing it. He was just there waiting to punch the time clock. Is this the way your employees respond to customers?

You may think that I am making too big a deal out of these incidents? After all, aren’t they just little things? Yes, they’re the kind of little things that can make the difference between a successful business and a business that ends up in bankruptcy court.

After years of mostly negative experiences, I have been conditioned not to expect too much in terms of customer service and high-quality shopping experiences from large stores. However, even with such low expectations, these large stores still continue to disappoint me whenever I find myself shopping at them.

That’s why I avoid them as much as possible. Instead, I always try to do business with stores that show that they do care about providing excellent customer service and a high-quality customer experience.

I can tell you one thing for sure; no small business could survive for long if they provided the same poor customer service and bad shopping experiences that I have been discussing. However, it seems that many of these larger stores believe that their cost advantages allow them to completely ignore customer service.

They are able to use their large size to purchase inventory at a lower cost than their smaller competitors can. They keep their labor costs relatively low. Consequently, they are then able to set their prices lower than their smaller competitors.

Their philosophy seems to be that people don’t care about excellent customer service and high-quality shopping experiences. They think that people only care about low prices.

As a small business owner, you have to use what these large businesses think is their competitive advantage against them. And I’m not just talking about retail stores. This applies to virtually every type of business.

Obviously, you cannot compete with these huge businesses on price. Don’t even try. Instead, compete by providing something that these large businesses cannot or will not provide: excellent customer service and high-quality experiences.

If you want to build and maintain a highly successful business, then you must focus on customer service. Place a high value on your customers. Show your customers that you value them.

Spend some time thinking about how what we’ve discussed in this article does or can apply to your particular business. Then, take some action to improve the level of customer service and the quality of the experience you are providing for your customers.

Don’t wait. Take some positive action today to ensure your success tomorrow.