How to Better Respect Small Business

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How to Better Respect Small Business

I had two recent experiences that made me think differently about respecting small businesses.  And if you are in the business of marketing, selling, servicing or supporting small business that’s an important thing.

The first was while reading some research. The research said that Small business owners overwhelmingly see themselves as unique and define themselves additionally by their unique contributions to society. 

And I thought why do we so rarely acknowledge and respect small business owners for how they respect themselves?

Sure we respect them by acknowledging their value as a customer, their membership in an industry, their work ethic, their entrepreneurship, their common pain points, their challenges, their contributions to job creation as a whole and blah blah blah…..but don’t you see it?

There is little unique about that to the Small Business owner, instead it’s a wide swath acknowledgement of them as a group which exactly not how they see themselves individually.  And there is nothing respecting their unique contributions to society.

Last week I tagged along with my wife to a local business association gathering at a new restaurant that recently opened in town.   There had to be near 40 local businesses represented sipping on wine and appetizers.

This was not how I remember these meetings way back when I used to attend in another life.   This meeting was about toasting to the “Alan’s business that is driving the benefit tomorrow night for the family who lost their home in the fire last week.” It was about the “needed sponsors for the summer band series”.  It was about how proud the association was for being the “sole group responsible for installing a landmark historic clock in the center of town”.   So little of the time was promoting their business and when they did – 80% of them shared how “different” they were than any another accountant, or restaurant, or mortgage broker, or Mary Kay representative they knew.

So why do I (and I suspect, we) forget so often what our eyes see, our ears hear and our research tells us about acknowledging and respecting a small business?

What if we were to ask more often “What are you most proud of”,  “What defines you” or “What contribution as an Small Business owner inspires you?” when we talked with small business owners? What could we do with that? What would we learn?   What if we identified their perceived or real unique differentiators and societal contributions and embedded those into our variable data printing or emails or CRM data or Facebook pages we build for them?  The leverages are infinite.

Respect anew the small business owner in the ways they respect themselves. It just makes sense.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Book Review: Effortless Experience [Matt Dixon, 2013 Penguin Books, CEB]

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Book Review:  Effortless Experience [Matt Dixon, 2013 Penguin Books, CEB]

Delighting your customers are you?  Waste of time.   Focusing on First Call Resolution?  You don’t get it.    Worrying about what channels customers prefer to communicate in?  Don’t be silly.

I couldn’t put this book down; read it in two chairs and one plane.

And what’s not to love with another Matt Dixon book (think The Challenger Sale) that is steeped in research from Corporate Executive Board and real life company examples of what you could truly do in the world of Service that improves loyalty, advocacy and profitability.

Dixon says and I believe him; “Service is the crucible of customer experience where all the companies’ claims, missions and values are tested.”  Gulp.

The secret though has nothing to do with service levels, getting higher satisfaction scores or striving for legendary service experiences (ya know, like the Nordstrom folks).

It’s simpler but not nearly as sexy; Reduce the effort. Don’t aim for delight, aim for relief.  Don’t dazzle customers, just fix the darn problem.   Reduce the customer effort before and after and you mitigate the rampant disloyalty that exists today.

Dixon and co. dismantle some beliefs for us too:  We have this illusion that our service departments are moments where we can inspire great trust and deeper loyalties with customers, yet data shows ANY customer service action is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.

A lot of the book focuses upstream before a customer even gets to you the service department, and delves into systems, websites and the need for simplicity.  Focus on Customer Effort Scores (CES) and not satisfaction scores.  Do that and you’ve mitigated the ease to jump ship.

Arguments and research abound about how incentivizing self-service vs. discouraging live service makes more sense.  How new hires should start their day 2 searching your websites and FAQ’s for jargon that confuses them and therefore complicates the customer experience.  How focusing on First Call Resolution misses the point that service issues are usually far more than that call but are “events” that may have begun weeks before ( like the purchase of a new service) and could continue weeks after.  How Delight based on corporate data, does not pay and how opening new ways for clients to reach you isn’t a real advantage as people will go wherever they get the best help.

I loved the robust chapters on teaching people to use “carefully crafted and thoughtful language” to engineer an experience that “actively guides a customer through an interaction”.   There is much neuroscience research there as well as in- the-trenches proven tactical applications that will have you rethinking your customer call approach.

I can’t do the book justice in less than 500 words but more than that and this post becomes an Article and not a blog.

Go get the book.  Take notes, highlight and/or export.   Study and then apply accordingly.   Here is a link to the book on amazon.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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