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How Your Small Business Can Beat Your Biggest Corporate Competitor

By Kevin Nunley
Nov 15, 2006

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Worried that a large corporation is grabbing and keeping all the customers in your industry? You can beat that giant organization without even breaking a sweat. It's easy when you help customers solve their problems.

Big corporations like to flood the airwaves with commercials
about how they care about customers and are there 24/7 anywhere in the world to help. Granted, some notable companies have become darned good at customer service. But many big companies just stink when it comes to helping customers solve problems.

Call and you'll get stuck in endless voice mail prompts. Email and a computer will answer with some notion that only marginally relates to your question.

Let me give you a timely example. Last week our Internet service abruptly went belly up. After making several calls, I discovered our local Internet Service Provider had been bought by communications giant Comcast. And I wasn't the only one experiencing problems. Most everyone in the entire state was unable to get online.

A temporary glitch in a complicated transition? Well, sort of. Online service stayed out for a full week.

Customer service representatives seemed unaware there even was a problem, then admitted they knew almost nothing about it and were powerless to provide additional information or do anything to correct the situation.

Let me compare that to the customer service provided by just
about any successful small business you know. Typically, if the person greeting you at the counter or answering your call or email doesn't know the answer to your problem, a manager or owner will appear who DOES know the answer.

The entire problem solving process generally takes no more than a few minutes and rarely more than a day.

When I was confused about sending my newsletter using the
Sendfree.com service, I got an immediate answer via email from the owner. Problem solved.

When I messed up my autoresponders at aWeber.com, the owner
noticed the problem, fixed it for me, then emailed to tell me what he had done. Wow!

These are small businesses with owners and operators who WANT to help customers solve their problems. It's a priority with them. I'll bet truly helpful customer service is the MAIN reason most of their customers keep coming back year after year.

Studies in recent years have shown people value good customer service over low price. That's particularly true with business customers. The manager or purchasing agent wants to buy from someone who will solve their problems, make their job easier, and take the stress out of their day.

All YOU need to do to help customers solve their problems is be there for them. Answer your phone and return calls -- OR -- answer email -- OR be around to meet with people face to face.

Keep in mind, you don't have to answer calls or email instantly or sit in your office around the clock. Most customers are absolutely delighted if you get back with them within a day. They're elated if you answer their question within a few hours.

You probably already spend a lot of your time helping customers solve problems. Don't think for a minute this is a waste of time. It could well be the one big gun you have, the surefire way to clobber your corporate competitor.

Kevin Nunley is a small business owner who loves to answer
questions via email. Send your question, problem, or idea to kevin@drnunley.com. See all Kevin's writing and promotion
services along with thousands of free marketing ideas at

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