When you own a small business, every job matters. There’s no financial cushioning like the big companies, a cash-stuffed armchair if you will, to have a cozy snooze on through the rough times. No, every day is an energetic grind, you’re pedal to the metal, and each new piece of business is a relief – another month’s expenses taken care of.

Are we being too dramatic?

We know small business

[vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”10″ down=”10″][vc_column_text]Here at FutureLab, we like to think we understand our customers. After all, we often assist small and medium businesses with creating and developing their online presence – and FutureLab is a small company itself. With only a couple of full-time employees and a few more part-timers, we’re intimately acquainted with the highs and lows that come with owning any small business.

Perhaps you don’t identify with our experience of fighting to compete with the big fish, fighting to keep swimming. And of course, helping out with cash flow is what business loans were built for. But the truth is that each customer represents a far bigger percentage of a small or medium company’s annual revenue than they would in a company that’s making 7 figures. It might not be life or death for a small business if they lose one potential client – but it certainly takes its toll on the blood pressure!

If it’s all sounding pretty gloomy for small and medium business thus far, there is a way to turn this heavy reliance on clients into a shining advantage. There’s a reason why clients stay loyal through the years to one company. There’s a reason why most people hate automatic messaging services that force you to listen to all the options before you get to speak to a real, human person.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][vc_column_text]

Big advantage for small business

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Advantages of small business
Advantages of small business

The big advantage for small business is the huge opportunity for building great client relationships, founded on superior customer service. Yes, there will always be those consumers who go for the cheapest option, no matter what product or service they are buying, and no matter where it comes from. But there are many other customers who are impressed, and more importantly, retained, by the quality of customer service they receive. And small businesses are in the best position to offer that extra service, which might make the difference between gaining and losing a customer.

When calling up a small or medium business, you’ll hear a real, genuine staff member on the other end of the line – not a robot, not a pre-recorded message telling you the menu, and not someone working out of a call centre in an unspecified location. For customer support, you’ll most likely be helped out by the team who sold you the product or service – not a fledging graduate who’s starting out at the bottom answering phone calls. You may even conduct all your dealings with the company owner – the big “CEO”, themselves! That level of service and respect for the client just can’t be provided by large companies, and small businesses are wise to capitalise on that advantage.

For example, we offer our clients a full, custom web solution, and the team working on your AdWords advertising will have already worked closely with the team responsible for creating your website. When clients ring up for support, they know they’ll be able to speak to our developers in person – and without running up a bill. We won’t refer you to different departments or give you no choice but to spend more money bringing another company up to speed on your requirements. (Read more about our web development services.)[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][vc_column_text]

Small businesses can build significant relationships with their clients: the hairstylist model

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Keep good business relations
Create good business relations

A survey last year found that on average, women stay with the same hairstylist longer than they stay with their husbands (12 years compared to 11 with their spouse). What’s the point of telling you that? Hairstylists have a one-on-one bond with their clients. They know personal and even intimate details about their customers, and clients will even feel guilty about switching stylists! That level of loyalty is, quite simply, inspiring. The Washington Post has a great article on how businesses can learn from the model that hairstylists set up. The relationship goes beyond the traditional retailer/consumer model. Hairstylists know better than anyone that it’s not just about selling a great product or service – it’s bonding with the client to ensure they keep on coming back. Big companies simply don’t have the resources to learn personal details about their thousands of customers or attempt to strike up a relationship to make the experience of using their services more than just, well, using their services. Small companies however, are in a great position to follow the hairstylist model: remember small details about each client, show them you care beyond just closing the deal. You’ll improve your chances of setting up a long-lasting relationship and augment your customer loyalty.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][vc_column_text]

Best practices for creating customer loyalty

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”10″ down=”10″][vc_column_text]As we said earlier, every customer is of necessity more important to small business than to large companies. And experts believe that large companies can even lose business to smaller companies who can offer that extra customer experience. The worst part is that large companies will not even realise they’ve lost a customer – unlike in a smaller organisation. Here’s our checklist for using your unique position as a small company to offer superior customer service – and helping to reduce those stressful customer losses.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][icon_list_item icon=”fa-check” icon_type=”circle” title=”Remember small details about your client”][vc_column_text]From their last holiday to the past problems they’ve experienced in business, showing your customer they are more than just a number helps forge a lasting business partnership[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][icon_list_item icon=”fa-check” icon_type=”circle” title=”Use your small business label to your advantage”][vc_column_text]What’s your unique selling point? You may not be the cheapest option, but you are the local specialist, or the most involved in the community, or the most sustainable. Sell yourself as purposely different from big business – and don’t forget to make customer service a priority.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][icon_list_item icon=”fa-check” icon_type=”circle” title=”Check in regularly with your clients”][vc_column_text]Ask for their review part-way through a project, talk to them about their experience with your company, give them opportunities to provide positive or negative feedback. They’ll appreciate the extra effort you’re putting into your relationship, and this is also a great way to ask about providing a testimonial.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][icon_list_item icon=”fa-check” icon_type=”circle” title=”If you lose a customer, follow up”][vc_column_text]Find out what went wrong, and ask for regular feedback. The key to successful small business is understanding your customers – and that starts with talking.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”20″ down=”20″][vc_column_text]Good luck! If you’ve enjoyed this post, you can like us on Facebook for more articles, news and updates. If you need advice on your small business strategy, take a look at our business consulting services or get in touch.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Turning the difficulties of small business into advantage