Competing with the big brands on customer service

Amazon locker
How can a small business even begin to compete with the big global brands? A common mistake some businesses make is spending vast amounts of precious money trying to replicate the tactics employed by the Amazons of the world.
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Amazon has infiltrated my local Co-op

Whilst popping into my local Co-op for some fresh orange juice (wine), I was confronted with a newly installed bright yellow Amazon Locker. I’m not sure whether this is a heavenly match of brand values, but that’s for another article.

Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks that allow a customer to pick up a package at a place and time that’s convenient to them – no more worrying about doorstep pirates whilst you are at work.

What’s interesting is how far Amazon seem to go to satisfy our need for immediate convenience. They infiltrate every available customer service channel like Sentinels in The Matrix. Although I’m pretty sure a Sentinel was easier to reach on the humble old telephone.

Competing with the big boys

How can a small business even begin to compete with the big global brands? A common mistake some businesses make is spending vast amounts of precious money trying to replicate the tactics employed by the Amazons of the world.

Instead of installing bright yellow lockers everywhere, play your killer card. Make your customers feel special. There’s a sweet spot that lies between convenience and exceptional customer service. Find it. Amazon might be convenient when you need a purple belt buckle by 9am tomorrow morning, but when was the last time they made you feel special? They don’t. They know what their strengths are, and they don’t pretend to be anything they are not.

Be nice

People buy from people they like. Don’t be the fast-food outlet of your sector (unless that is your objective). Be the independent restaurant that knows their customers’ first names, preferred table, and favourite foods. Be responsive on social media. Chat to your customers and get involved in conversations. Don’t have multiple social media platforms you can’t manage. Pick 1 or 2 (where your customers are likely to be) and be present.

Look at ways you can add value to your customer’s journey. Are there any opportunities where you can personally address your customers – a handwritten note with their order, a thank you email following a purchase. Even sending them a birthday card is a simple idea. I know someone who was driven home by a restaurant owner because it was raining, and they were unable to get a taxi – it’s all about going above and beyond.

Improve

Welcome customer feedback (even the feedback that is hard to hear). Send out surveys or simply follow up a sale with a personal email. The only way you can improve is by listening to your customers – they will give you the best business advice you’ve ever had. Listen to what your customers are saying about you on social media, good and bad. Never EVER underestimate the value of your existing customers.

Go to great lengths to make your customers happy. Always ask yourself whether you’ve done enough to make your customers feel extra special.

You’ve got a massive advantage over the big brands. And they know it. Making your customers feel special is your weapon. Use it – with a smile!

Lucy Beddall

[email protected]

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