STOCK SME / ecommerce / online / small business
SMEs need proper buy-in from their personnel to make all customer centric approaches work. Image Credit: Shutterstock

At the core of any successful business, you will find an unwavering commitment to excellence in operations and customer service. Excellence has been mostly about ensuring customers are getting utmost value from your products and services, as well as good experiences.

The focus of these experiences has been on aspects such as speed of delivery, capturing and acting upon customer feedback, and enhancing the overall customer journey. But there are other subtle recipes for success, especially at the SME level where we can afford to provide a more personalized experience.

Today’s low-touch economy requires taking extra steps to retain customers and attract new ones. When you have a relatively small operation and customer base, it is more feasible and rewarding to add a human touch to your relationship with customers.

Demonstrating thoughtfulness and compassion, investing time to consistently offer genuine care, and taking ownership of your clients’ work can truly make all the difference between SME success and failure.

Work with conscience

As a professional, it is your duty to ensure providing services with respect and integrity. Your pricing strategy should be all about providing value for money, without taking advantage of a customer’s need for speedy delivery or lack of knowledge in specific areas.

You can also foster strong customer relationships by accommodating out-of-scope customer requests at a reasonable or no additional fee. Demonstrating kindness will foster customer loyalty in the long run.

Serve genuinely

Genuine attention to customer needs is essential for SME success. By making honest and prudent recommendations that put their business first, you can foster customer loyalty and trust over time. Being self-serving may bring you short-term gains but it will surely erode the trust needed to build long-term relationships with your customers.

Providing authentic support for each client should be at the heart of any SME customer service philosophy. Strive to build honest relationships with all who come through your doors, treating them like family and ensuring a culture where their needs always come first.

Develop a sense of ownership over your client’s business

If your customer entrusted you with a project, run it like you own it. Lead your clients’ projects with utmost commitment. Don’t wait around for your client’s cues. Take initiative and show a vested interest in their business.

Ensure you understand their goals, embrace ownership of the tasks at hand, and prioritize deadlines as though they were yours.

Why are these three pillars of customer excellence scarce?

Most employees simply don’t care if customers were happy or not. That’s why some SMEs experience customer attrition as they scale. Some SMEs have been motivating employees with stock options and deeper involvement in the company.

For the most part, freelancers and entrepreneurs embrace these three practices because they work for themselves, and they truly care about customer retention which is key for the success and continuity of their own businesses.

Employers are partly to blame

Many companies talk to their employees about career paths, but most provide vague career plans or unrealistic objectives, and only a few follow through with implementation. A clear career path is one consented to by employees from the point of hiring, with a detailed timeline tied to specific performance metrics.

Additionally, companies should engage in an ongoing assessment of their talent pool against market trends, inflation rates, competitor offers, cost of living and other personal and economic factors, in order to ensure their human resources are continuously well-compensated based on their current market worth.

SME excellence 2.0 is about championing an ethos of conscientiousness, robust care, and personal accountability so that your business and that of your clients can reach their highest potential. The challenge for most SMEs lies in scaling up without sacrificing the dedicated level of care and attention that they provide to each client.