SMEs have the agility to win customers where big businesses fail

The latest quarterly analysis of consumer complaints from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has BT at the top of the list for the most complained-about broadband provider. Others in the top ten for the first three months of 2017 included Virgin Media (2nd) Plusnet and EE (3rd and 4th), while Vodaphone was most complained about mobile company for the second quarter running.

Yet, nothing seems to change, although it is hardly likely that such large companies either welcome the adverse reactions or fail to try to improve.

The explanation may lie in their very size but more likely it will be down to some level of complacency and a lack of customer focus.  Big corporations can be very complex structures with strictly laid-out chains of command and processes but they don’t like change, especially when they are booking profits.

Like an ocean-going super tanker that needs something like a mile to alter course to avoid a collision, their size, their segmentation and their systems and processes make it much harder to change their work practices sufficiently to make a visible difference.

If action has to be determined at senior level, passed down a chain of command to the front line and communicated as a new message to customer services it will take time for any changes to be effective or to be perceived by customers.

Agility offers flexible SMEs an advantage over large ones

man demonstrating yoga agilityThis presents huge opportunities for SMEs.

By their nature SMEs tend to be less hierarchical and the likelihood is that there is more direct communication between CEOs, managers and front-line team. Initiatives and new ideas can be rapidly implemented, and quickly abandoned if they aren’t working.

The SMEs’ strength lies in their ability to respond quickly if a problem arises.  If a change in a process needs to be addressed, providing they are nimble enough, they can implement change promptly and communicate it to everyone in the business.

Arguably, SMEs are always looking to improve their products or services and therefore open to new ideas without being hamstrung by a rigid hierarchy or processes.

This gives them an advantage in trying to win new customers, when their bigger competitors repeatedly fail to deliver.

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