Sunday, August 07, 2011

feeling special

One of the many hats I wear is that of coach.  As part of this,  I do business coaching for micro-businesses (that's the little ácorn' businesses of just one or two people)

I've been doing this for almost 15 years, and worked with literally hundreds of people with great ideas, lots of passion, often plenty of drive and commitment and usually not much money.
Many businesses have done well, and many haven't.
There are just a handful of reasons, I think, why some manage to stay (more than afloat) and go on to become successful.
- the first is that the business owner has a real vision of where they want to be with their business.
- the second is that they have a commitment to that success.  including down the boundaries for what they will and will not do to make this happen.
- the third is they really understand where their skills, and passion lie.

But one of the standout reasons that these businesses manage to keep their customers coming back time and time again?
They treat their customers like individuals.  As a small business they know that the personal touch is what separates them from the big corporates.  In fact that's often their only difference - the product, the margins and prices, even the service standards could well be the same.  But these people KNOW their customers.

They make friends of their customers, understanding them in a way that a large company just cannot do.
They listen, and act, (intentionally and wisely) on the feedback of their customers.  The customers believe that they are cared about and valued.

It can be difficult to maintain boundaries for small business owners - and this is a fine line, especially in a business centred on hospitality or wellbeing.  The successful businessowner finds and keeps this boundary, all the while embracing the unique position they play in the customers lives.  They go the extra mile, they consider each business decision in light of what is already working well in their business with their most consistent and loyal customers.

And, in turn, these customers will, and do, become loyal for life.  They will spend  more money, for a whole lot less effort than the owner might have to make to attract a new customer.  They will tell their friends.  They are often far more willing to offer feedback, both positive and negative, than the customer of a corporate.

They feel special.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post! I am really stubborn about where I shop, and I always go back to the places where I am treated well!

JoGillespie said...

I'm with Michelle - esp. here in Italy, where customer service is laughable, when it isn't downright rude. So I always go back to shops where I am treated well, and I TELL them why I am a repeat customer. Only once have I had the courage to tell someone why I was leaving without purchasing, even though I'd found something I really liked. The reaction was rolled eyes...never went back. GOOD customer service is SO important!