February 19, 2019

Small Companies Can Excel At Customer Service

customer retentionIf you’ve read this site through and through, you know that I often come back to the topic of customer service. In part it’s because it’s one area where many smaller food companies have a huge competitive advantage. Yes, good customer service can take time but doing it well can also 1) personalize your brand for your consumers and 2) make you memorable and stand out. Both of these points are incredibly important when you’re competing against brands that have more time and money to spend on marketing and are able to produce their goods more cheaply thus offering consumers a lower price point or deeper discounts.

Recently I’ve had a few smaller companies just go above and beyond in my mind. But here’s the funny thing – nothing they’ve done has necessarily cost them a ton of money – it’s more that what they did made me feel valued and noticed as a consumer.

  • I recently purchased a new sofa from JoyBird.com. This is obviously not an inexpensive purchase but we desperately needed a new sofa and the time had come to make the purchase. JoyBird is definitely a smaller player in the furniture game and the complexity is upped by the fact that the entire shopping experience is done online. JoyBird has no retail stores where you can go and try out the sofa you may potentially be sitting on for the next 10+ years. The sofa came and I was happy. So that was the end of it in my mind. Oh no, right after the holidays I received a handwritten note from a sales representative at JoyBird thanking me for my purchase and reminding me to reach out if I had any questions or problems. Trust me, I checked and this was not one of those ‘looks like it’s handwritten but is actually computer generated’ notes – this was a legitimate handwritten note. It caught me so off guard I actually saved the note for my husband to see as well!
  • In the fall I made a purchase from a smaller food tools company named Three Sweet Chicks. I received my order, was happy with what I got, and then a few months later realized I needed a few more things and went back to them again. Not only was my order shipped quickly but this time they included a note (again, handwritten) on the top of my invoice thanking me for being a returning customer and for trusting them with my order. It was a small thing but it felt really good to be noticed that I was a returning customer and that they had earned my trust.
  • This past week I received an order from the Bend Soap Company and enclosed with the order was a surprise small travel size bar of soap and yet another note thanking me for trying their products.

These experiences have stood out to me because these companies chose to treat me as a human being and sought to make a connection versus simply viewing me as a source of revenue. If you the consumer have a choice between spending your money on a company who doesn’t care about you versus spending your money with a company that appreciates your business, which would you choose?

And as you can see, nothing these companies did was necessarily fireworks and rainbows. it was a simple gesture yet it was noticed because so few companies make these gestures anymore.

So in your business, what can you do to notice and honor your customers in a way that is compatible with your business model? It may ultimately be your biggest competitive advantage.

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