In a recent article at eWeek, Nathan Eddie wrote about a very interesting survey conducted by online marketer WebVisible. They survey found that 83% of consumers surveyed prefer smaller, local companies to larger chains due to lesser prices, higher quality goods and more personalized service.
Although the survey wasn’t conducted with the online business collaboration market in mind, the conclusion applies.
In a market dominated by Google and Microsoft, and their ability to monopolize airwaves, we found that one of our major unique selling propositions was the ability to offer personalized services, being a small business. We found that a certain segment, the small business consumer segment, especially valued this.
Google and Microsoft claim to be “everything for everyone” – the two are having a well-chronicled battle for the enterprise segment, and at the same time regularly talk about being imminently interested in the SMB segment. But their business model, and size, doesn’t allow for them to offer truly “personalized” services – hand hold customers with free training and consultation to get them started; have real people around to call when issues arise; allow for exceptions; or offer concessions and be flexible in diverse business situations.
All this is especially important for cash constrained smaller businesses which may not have an in house IT department. Offering such services to millions of consumers is not viable for mega businesses, which is why they cultivate a vast network of resellers and MSPs.
Similar themes are discussed in other articles I have come across recently. Keith Farrell asks the all-important question in his recent article – considering the multi-billion dollar size of the enterprise market, does Google even want your small business buck?
Phil Whitewright in an article last year titled “Web giants and the helpless individual” speaks about the frustration faced by users of big business web products experiencing mission critical problems.
With the inherent difference in the negotiating power of a small business user, and that of a mega firm with millions of similar small business users, such situations are bound to arise.