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Responsiveness – The Key to a Successful SME

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So many companies strive to achieve growth to increase profits, benefit from economies of scale or for simple vanity reasons. However, being a big company doesn’t always mean that the company is more successful, being an SME can be equally beneficial. The nature of larger companies dictate that a more regimented approach to business is applied with rules, policies, procedures, processes, departments and red tape all helping to slow down business operations. With less traffic to fight through, SME’s have the ability to be responsive to the needs & demands of the market place.

Customisation

The single greatest benefit to being a responsive company is the ability to truly customise your products/services to the needs of your customers. When a company deals with customer numbers in the hundreds or thousands, the only way to efficiently deliver communications is via automation. Letters to customers are automated, offers are automated and every facet of communication between the human customer and robotic company ensues. As a customer, just make sure that any request you may have can be categorised into a pre-defined algorithm with an automatically generated generic response.

In the year 2015, customers demand what they want, when they want it, how they want it and SME’s are best poised to respond to, and satisfy such demands. Telling your customers they need “the standard package” or “the budget level package” makes them feel as homogenised as the packages being offered to them.

Lack of Hierarchy & Structure

The composition of big companies comprises of dozens of departments each with their own agendas, protecting their own budgets and results. Each department have employees, supervisors, managers and senior management which creates layer upon layer of hierarchy and internal structure. Therefore when a customer makes a request for a customised service/product, or a lower level employee needs to escalate a complaint or request, that information needs to navigate its way up the company hierarchy and back down to the customer again. SME’s on the other hand having fewer layers, departmental agendas and fewer employees & managers with vested interests are able to respond more expeditiously. Customer trends fluctuate daily, competitors improve & evolve and technology impacts market trends meaning the speed of response can only be effectively executed by SME’s.

Quality vs Quantity

SME’s are in a blessed position whereby their primary objective is to generate a higher quality of customer rather than a greater quantity (although increasing volume over time by sustainable growth). Big businesses may be able to boast that they can scale operations to achieve economies of scale, but at this point customers now become “just a number” which lacks genuine customer service. The final price offered by SME’s and big business is almost identical, the SME benefits from having a flat structure and low operating costs, whilst the big company still needs to absorb higher operating costs.

The key to achieving a higher quality of customer means chasing a higher quantity of customers must always be a secondary objective. Excellence in delivering a high quality of service breeds customer loyalty and customer retention. If more companies focused on quality over quantity, then perhaps fewer people would be brand-agnostic, obsessed by price or seek substitute products. As an SME, your company is born with a responsive nature, grow and this trait begins to dwindle – just keep focused on achieving quality over quantity.

SME’s strive to achieve growth to become a big business – grow employees, grow assets, grow profits or grow to be admired. Achieving growth so often kills the flexible responsive nature of an SME and big companies struggle to be responsive – so how do we successfully merge the two? By doing just that, merge big and small to learn from one another – knowledge share. Ensure the SME learns how to scale operations and define processes and procedures, same goes for the larger companies, learn what makes SME’s so successful, adopt their approach to excellence in quality of service by being responsive– just don’t grow and kill customer service in the process.

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