Delight Your Customers By Doing What Small Businesses Do Best

I have a feeling that lots of small business owners are providing great customer service these days and plan to do even better during the upcoming holiday season. With Small Business Saturday® only a few days away, I’ll bet many small business owners have already coached their teams on this.

Good customer service is at the heart of what it means to be a small company. Want to be on the cutting edge? This guide offers advice on how to improve your service and accelerate your growth. Here are four tips:

Create a dialogue

Many people value small businesses because of the connection they create between business and customer. Savvy business owners are working to extend this experience online. Nearly half (47 percent) of the business owners polled by AT&T earlier this year plan to increase their social media marketing.* Among fast-growing businesses—those with annual revenue increases of 10 percent or more—the number approached 60 percent.

The most successful social media pages are interactive: posing questions to customers, offering tips and advice, and sharing photos of customers and employees. They are also updated often. While there’s no hard and fast rule, at least twice a day is a good number to shoot for.

Extend special offers

Everyone loves a deal, and using special offers to reward loyal customers can be an excellent way to show you value their business. More than four in 10 of the businesses polled (43 percent) by AT&T plan to extend offers to current customers as a way to improve service.

Rather than simply running an occasional sale, try to offer deals that highlight your uniqueness. For example, a toy store might offer a small free gift to new parents on its email list, while a bed and breakfast might host a contest for a free night’s stay for the best travel anecdote. During the holidays, some stores in my neighborhood host exclusive shopping nights with discounts on purchases, which is always a nice way to reward repeat customers.

Empower your employees

Many business owners know how important it is to have a good team in place. A 2013 American Express OPEN survey found that nearly 30 percent operate on the mantra “You are only as good as your people.” A critical part of service is to ensure your employees have the tools they need to serve customers effectively. This may mean improving Internet speed so they can find information for customers faster or providing wireless technology so they can be more responsive.

Help customers find you

With so many people going online to learn about local businesses and products and services, small businesses know they need to improve their visibility. For example, 45 percent of the companies polled by AT&T plan to enhance their websites, while 39 percent will increase their search marketing. I’ve found the key to success here is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes—to imagine what information would help them get around your website and which words or phrases they might use to search for your business. I also strongly recommend mobile marketing to help reach those customers and prospects on their smartphones and tablets.


What are some of the ways you’ll differentiate your business on Small Business Saturday and through the holiday season? Share your thoughts below.


*The AT&T Accelerate Your Business Broadband Poll was conducted among a representative sample of 616 principals of companies with 1 to 20 employees in the United States by Bredin Inc. in April-May 2013. The survey had a margin of error of +/-5 percentage points at the 90 percent level of confidence

Alice Bredin is America’s foremost small business expert, with more than 15 years of experience in the small business market. She has provided highly practical, actionable advice to millions of business owners through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary, and small business forums.


Alice Bredin Founder and President Bredin Inc. About Alice