Small businesses will always have the competitive edge when it comes to customer service. For one simple, yet profound difference – the people. As a company grows and a staff gets larger, you start to lose that small sense of the human touch. You know what I mean. When you start to know one of the customer service reps by name, and they start to remember you as well. In many ways, that sacredness of connecting with another individual on the other side of some Company Name is the greatest secret ingredient that seals the customer service package together.
Cue to today, It’s 3:30pm, and I’m ready to go home. I’ve got my motorcycle helmet strapped on, I jump on the bike, and……my back tire is nearly flat. One cannot fully describe the sense of absolute terror you get when you have a flat tire on a motorcycle. How do you ever comprehend what happens when one tire out of two goes pop on the roadway?
So, what do I do? I get on my bike, turn it on, and drive off. I might sound crazy, but just down the road, if this little wobbly tire will hold out, is the local Poway Motorcycle store.
I’m breathing deep, I’m almost there. One more stop light to go, and I finally make it. I’m kind of shaking from the stress, of having almost potentially blown a tire in a sea of metal.
It’s a small little place, lots of tools laying about, not exactly pristine clean. But it also has that human touch that says – hey, I spend a lot of time here, it’s like my second home, it’s my passion.
I walk up to the guy that’s there every day – Bud. Small, compact fellow. With scruffy hair, beard, and a pair or reading glasses and grease all over his hands. This is Bud, my customer service representative for the day. Since 1983, Bud has been working on motorcycles. He loves it, it’s his passion, and he’s been doing it every day.
Bud let’s me sit in the garage with him, and I watch him take apart my bike tire. Absolutely fascinating seeing a true craftsman at his work. He removes the screw from my tire, shows me the hole, and then lightens my day by telling me that they make a patch for my tire, and I don’t need to buy a whole new one!
Not only does Bud fix my tire, he also talks to me. I ask him about his trade, and he’s willing to talk. He shares his laughs, his pains, his crashes. There’s no script he’s reading off of, he’s just being Bud. This is why I love small business customer service. Because in these companies, there are a ton of Buds, and they make for a fantastic customer experience. Only at these kind of companies, can you find:
- The expert being the customer service person. It’s not common in a business when you get to talk to the expert of a product or service. You start to trust them more, you become more willing to pay for their services. Simply because you know that they are talking from experience.
- The customer service rep having a stake in the business’s success. For big companies, many employees are just hourly. Punch in, punch out, get a paycheck. For small businesses, you’ll find that your customer service rep is the business owner too. You know he’s speaking out of a genuine interest in promoting the best possible outcome for his enterprise and your well-being.
- Genuine personalities fully shining. There’s no corporate brand to hide behind. Bud IS Poway Motorcycle, and Poway Motorcycle IS Bud. When talking to Bud, you know that you have a brand you can trust, because you know the man behind it. If something breaks, you know who to call, and you know they’ll care. They are personally attached to their business success.
Even if you work for a larger company, you can always treat yourself as your own small business. Remember that every day, when working with customers, you are molding your own personal relationship with others. Because you never know when you might talk to the same person again, so how do you make their day shine?