Small Biz Matters

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Customers / Small Business

Survey: Small businesses serve customers better

April 4, 2012

 Some might think Danny O’Malia is swimming against the tide.

The former grocery store executive’s Carmel consulting firm specializes in teaching businesses how to deliver exceptional customer service—the kind of “move heaven and earth” stuff that seems all but unheard of these days.

If the approach seems old-school, perhaps that’s because he preaches a customer-centric manta inherited from his dad, who founded the O’Malia Food Markets chain in 1966.

O’Malia applies the lessons he learned in the grocery business to other industries—most recently sports franchises including the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Indians, as IBJ’s Anthony Schoettle reported last week.

The continued growth of his 3-year-old firm (revenue doubled in 2011) is an encouraging sign that companies want to do better. And with good reason: About seven in 10 of Americans say they are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with businesses they believe provide excellent customer service.

Even more—78 percent of consumers—report that they have canceled a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience, according to a 2011 American Express study.

But the credit card company’s Global Customer Service Barometer has good news for small businesses: 81 percent of survey respondents say small firms place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses.

Is that simply because small-business owners are closer to everyday operations, or is there another explanation? What can big business learn from the little guys?

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