In this article, read how small businesses can compete with big brands and thrive in this overloaded market.

The David vs. Goliath fight between small and large businesses has been raging for decades. On the most basic level, large corporations have resources unimaginable for small businesses with under 500 employees. It is incredibly difficult for small businesses to deliver the same level of service as companies with giant IT budgets and large teams. The problem is − consumers expect it.

The rise of customer expectations

The Amazons and Walmarts of the world have established customer expectations that far exceed what is realistic for small businesses to achieve with the resources they have. Small businesses are getting creative with ways to compete, like forming coalitions to offer faster delivery, but they’re still falling short on meeting customer demands. With same-day delivery and click to order options from big brands, modern consumers have been conditioned to seek out instant gratification. According to PwC, nearly 80% of American consumers say that speed, convenience, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

A girl sits on the floor holding a smiley-face banner.

Building on greater resources, big organizations are also able to supplement their offerings through advanced technology. There has been tremendous growth in cloud adoption by big players and early adopters – especially in the last year as the pandemic hit and exponentially accelerated the rate of digital transformation. Digital is where people are interacting with brands and doing business.

While this may seem like another drawback for small businesses with tight (or non-existent) IT budgets, it has actually reduced the effort required to implement the technology. The acceleration in digital transformation has democratized access and lowered prices. IT resources have become cheaper through expanded use, so the cost of purchasing or implementing the necessary technology is no longer a barrier for many organizations. In addition, with the gaining prevalence of low code and no code and the advent of the citizen developer, the IT skills needed for such technology are very basic – meaning implementation is easier.

Turning digital channels into a competitive advantage

Big companies are dominating digital channels with giant budgets and big teams, but the truth is small businesses can also use these mediums efficiently. You can start small with live chat, or you can go big with omnichannel customer experience solutions.

A new digital channel for customers to reach out to a small business, like a chatbot and live chat, will show customers a business is ready to connect. When done right, the chat channel provides quicker and better-informed responses. This significantly improves the overall customer service. For example, Conn-Selmer Inc, a manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments, implemented a chat solution to deal with the increase in incoming inquiries from students, amateurs, and professionals. The chatbot is able to answer easy customer service questions, handle support requests, and route sales requests to live agents. By providing quick answers, the chatbot can drive growth and create smoother customer journeys, with an 82% increase in YoY engagement.

A woman uses live chat as one of the ways how small businesses can compete with big brands.

We have to take into account that small business owners have to wear many hats – from CFO to front desk operator, depending on the size of the business. The thought of managing all of the digital channels that customers are using can feel overwhelming – email, SMS, messaging, live chat, social media and more. With customer engagement tools, small businesses with limited staff and resources can spend less time digging around to find the solution for a customer’s problem and instead get right to the root of it.

Eliminating the time-consuming research when speaking with a customer for the first time speeds up chat durations and time to resolution. In fact, if a chatbot is tacked on to a live chat solution, an agent might not even have to be involved. For example, Australian national broadband provider, Tangerine, found that their chatbot resolves 91% of queries without needing to escalate to an agent. For small businesses with little resources and staff, this time-saving technology can be critical.

This is the answer to the question of how small businesses can compete with big brands. While it can feel like an uphill battle, small organisations have the tools and technology available to compete with giant ones. When combined with entrepreneurial tenacity and community support, small businesses can master customer engagement while continuing to deliver unbeatable service.

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