Small Business’ Competitive Advantage
This is my site Written by Alora on January 18, 2010 – 10:31 am

Author Marc Compeau recently wrote an article on Forbes entitled, Cost-Cutting Won’t Get You There.  In it he touches on many points that seem to be recurring lately.

First, the idea that cutting costs are the ticket to solving financial woes.  Yes, of course, fiscal discipline is important and if your business is bleeding money because of $200 lunches every day, and last-minute, first-class airline tickets for sales opportunities that could be just as effective via WebEx, then a little fiscal discipline certainly wouldn’t hurt.  But the bottom line is that, when it comes down to it, the percentage of over-all gains you are capable of attaining through cost-cutting is never going to stack up to the gains you could make by selling more.

Of course, how do you do that?

In the corollary to the VentureBeat article by Scott Olson to which I responded earlier this week (Excel Where Your Competitors Suck), Marc points out that great customer service is the key. Good customer service builds good relationships and on-going customer loyalty.

This is great news for small businesses.  In a 24/7 wired world of automated telephone voice trees, website customer service autobots, offshored customer service techs who have to read from a script to answer the most basic questions and email auto-responders, what is business lacking more than decent customer service?

Small businesses have the ability to impact their customers’ perceptions on this front than large businesses do.  Without the large staff, training problems and lack of personal accountability that major corporations face among their ranks, small business owners with small teams can focus on delivering real customer value without making the customer feel like they are a neusance.

There is an added bonus to keep in mind, too: people are far more forgiving of mistakes if they feel like your heart is in the right place.  A faceless corporation will almost always lose that battle, because it is too impersonal.  A small business, with one-on-one relationships that provides a sense of value to their customers is always going to be better positioned to bouncing back from life’s unavoidable errors.

Your customers talk.  And at least some of the people they talk to are other potential customers.  What are they saying about you and your business?  Give them something (positive) worth talking about, and see where it leads.