What we can learn from small business
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  carol_sumner retail small_business social_business
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If you've watched any TV this week you've probably seen the “Small Business” commercials, encouraging us to patronize our favorite local stores this coming weekend. I do love going to Mom and Pop stores. They have a different feel to them. I know I probably pay a higher price for the goods in those stores, but the personal service I receive is worth it to me.
When I lived in Hyde Park in Chicago I would walk to the local butcher on 53rd street to buy my meats because they would talk to me (and I heard them doing the same with other customers) about how I was going to use the product. Often customers helped each other with recipes and suggestions. If they didn't have what I needed already pre-cut they would go in the back and do a special cut. They would make suggestions for cooking it if I asked.
The attraction was not just that I got great service, but that I had a relationship with those folks. They recognized me when I came into the store and seemed to enjoy the interaction as much as I did. There were more convenient and less expensive options available, but the relationship and service made it worth it to do business with them.
How do your customers or employees feel about being in relationship with you? If they make a suggestion or ask a question does it go into the void, never to be found again?
The picture below is priceless, I think. This is a shot from the 12th tee box of one of my favorite courses (yes – everything always comes back to golf!). Someone there has a great sense of humor. Can you even find the suggestion box? Once people see it they always chuckle, because it pretty much sums up where we all think suggestions go. Certainly no one would wade through the wetlands to see if there was a suggestion in it!
In this day and age we can do so much better. Social business is exciting because it is social. Let's not forget that it is important because of the relationships it can help us build. We have an opportunity to engage with one another as if we lived within walking distance of each other. Let's use these new platforms to strengthen the relationships we have with our customers and employees.
Carol Sumner is an Accelerated Value Leader with IBM Collaboration Solutions who specializes in collaboration systems implementation and administration. Carol has recently added the role of social business champion within IBM, helping teams make the most of social media. What she enjoys most about her days is helping people solve problems (and playing golf). You can contact Carol at email@example.com or through Twitter (@sumnercl1).
Carol is an IBM Redbooks thought leader