In many large cities, the best example being New York City, small businesses can successfully trump major corporations. Small businesses can outrun the larger ones by cleverly attracting the right market. Manhattan is one of the only major city in America where there is no Wal-Mart and no Target (despite the sky-scraper size advertisements for Target in Times Square).
Most could argue that this is a good thing. First and foremost, major corporations cloud diversity. Second, with small businesses employees can get to know your face and name, and who knows? You may even get some friendly discounts if they like you.
But what is the price we pay with predominately small business communities? Higher prices, often based on ambiguous and inconsistent mark ups. Absolutely no standard of cleanliness or order, no reason to treat customers like they matter, all simply because these employees deal with hundreds of people a day, and have no one to answer to but themselves. These business practices often won’t be a direct result of a business failing since New Yorkers have needs that face a limited source of supply.
Most New Yorkers use public transportation, they have no choice but to do business wherever it’s convenient for them. Location is everything when deciding where to eat, bank, etc. If it’s not within a five-block radius, forget it. The vast majority of New Yorkers will choose convenience over proper customer service.
This is not to say that all small businesses in New York City are lacking in attentiveness. But for me, what sets apart one small business from another similar one is the customer service I receive. Such attitude, I believe, is shared by many. Acknowledging this, I hope that regardless of the upper hand a supplier has in the market, in the long run, lack of proper customer-salesperson interaction will ultimately lead to either more businesses entering the market, thus leading to more competition, or enough customer dissatisfaction to significantly damage business.
We all know how getting bad customer service makes us feel. Personally, it makes me angry and irritable, even long after I leave a given establishment. I may give the staff member my own dose of bad attitude, which of course rarely helps the situation.
What is most frustrating is that providing good customer service is not a major task. It’s not something that takes a vast amount of money, investment, or time when it comes to small businesses. It’s the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to get and keep business. It starts from the view of the business from the outside, the image the business projects and how it wants to be perceived by the customers. Even just the small effort of making direct eye contact with the prospective client can make a huge impact. When I come across someone who even pretends to care about my situation, it can make my day.
Putting emphasis on this aspect of any business will tremendously affect client retention rate and might save a business from sinking in these testing economic times.