How to topple the competition

I was more than a little surprised to learn that the Federal government considers businesses with fewer than 500 employees and sales of $7 million or less as “small businesses.”

Somehow, I thought small was a lot smaller than that – like the numerous small businesses I come in contact with through the chamber with fewer than 10 or 15 employees.

These numerous small businesses pretty much all have the same problem. We are like little David trying to hold our ground when we come face-to-face, belly-to-belly with an unrelenting and unstoppable Goliath.

It’s not a fair fight and never will be. After all, Goliaths have all the tools, the people, the resources (financial and otherwise), and the seeming power to crush us.

What do we have? Hmmmm. Oh, I know: We have the ability to turn on a dime – to react and respond instantly when we recognize an opportunity or face a challenge.

And we have what I call “the ultimate differentiator.” That differentiator is our ability to deliver outrageously superb, stupendous, extraordinary service.

Now, this isn’t the too typical wait-on-hold-for-an-hour “customer service” that you often get when you call to try to get Goliath to do what they promised when you made your purchase.

It’s the exceptional proactive service that you deliver every day to every client or customer. It’s the exceptional proactive service that everyone in your organization eats, sleeps, and breathes every waking moment of every day to the benefit of every client or customer… and to each other!

Each other? Absolutely.

In a small business, exceptional service starts at the office or in the shop with every team member providing superb, stupendous, extraordinary service to every other team member: proactively helping each other, anticipating needs, seeing easier ways of doing things, jumping in to help, and making their teammates’ day easier.

When a small business adopts this practice or culture of exceptional internal service, it’s easy to transition it to the outside – to take it to customers and clients.

We recently had the opportunity to introduce this exceptional internal service strategy to one of our clients. We started weeks earlier to train the senior team member (whose job is titled “client services”) to numerous facets of service. We encouraged him to personally begin providing exceptional proactive service to each of the other team members. He did exactly that.

When the time came for us to introduce exceptional service to the entire team, they readily accepted the idea because they’d been experiencing it already… and a culture of exceptional service is so inherently contagious that just being around it makes you want to be a part of it… to emulate it… because it feels good.

And they were doing this already. The mere fact that the senior team member had been so free and forthcoming with exceptional service brought about a change in each of the other team members. And each had already picked up this delightfully contagious habit of providing better service to each other. Within weeks, morale improved and the entire organization was working more harmoniously than ever.

I can’t wait to see the outcome when our client perfects their internal service skills and we help them transition it to the outside. Something tells me that when they do, they will be able to topple any competitor, no matter how big. Watch out, Goliath.

© 2013 Gil Effron

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