Here is a simple way small businesses can offer their customers an advantage in doing business with them as opposed to their larger competitors: make yourself available and respond faster.

Many businesses place roadblocks and barriers to customer interaction – voice mail, call screening, auto attendants, unnamed email boxes, etc.  These are barriers that limit the timeliness of customer interaction and hinder quick response to customer questions and issues.

Sure, a level of technology between a customer and your business is an advantage – call routing, 24/7 access to leave messages, etc.  But many companies use technology to essentially hide from customers and slow response to improve profitability.  Some even feign being busy to create artificial appearances of high demand. Crazy!

Small businesses can use their availability as a huge advantage in winning and keeping customers.  Accept calls, promptly return messages, implement on-line live-chat and instant messaging, and establish clear internal policy on escalations to quickly resolve customer issues.

Customers want personal attention.  And the simplest way to deliver it is to be available and quicken your interaction and attention to customer needs.

Use your size to your advantage — make decisions faster, respond quicker, and be flexible in how you deal with issues and concerns.  Your larger competitors have difficulty doing each — when possible, use their size against them.

Do you agree with me that small businesses can leverage their size to attract and retain customers?

–or–

Do big competitors always have the advantage?

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