Yesterday I joined Mono Solutions VP Matt Matergia on a Localogy webinar to address an important question for digital solutions providers. What is the ideal service model to offer small business customers?

The webinar is a companion piece to a new Localogy white paper created in partnership with Mono and based on a small business survey. The survey (n=309), conducted in October, was designed to produce insights on how to build an optimal SMB service model.

As the white paper notes, service can be a differentiator. Many successful SaaS companies, FreshBooks is a good example, have built their businesses on the notion that a dollar invested in service comes back several-fold. Our research sought to define a model that achieves this with the right balance of personalized service and scalability.

Yesterday’s webinar condensed the survey’s findings into five key learnings.

Learning 1: COVID Has Accelerated the Need for Service

As Matt notes in the webinar, you can’t have a business conversation today without touching on how COVID is changing everything. While the survey wasn’t COVID-centric, it did ask how COVID had impacted technology adoption. What we found is 70% of SMBs made a tech purchase related to the pandemic.

And as Matt notes in this audio clip from the webinar, many of the tools adopted were transactional in nature (e.g., scheduling, eCommerce). And this adoption of unfamiliar tools put pressure on solutions providers to step up with service.

Learning 2: The Gap in Service Model and SMB Preferences

The survey showed areas where service channels and SMBs were more or less on the same page in terms of how service is delivered. As the chart from the white paper below shows, there is alignment on email, toll-free helplines, and chatbots. No one seems to favor chatbots. Yet the gaps show where the opportunities lie.

For example, only 2% of solutions providers offer service via text messaging. Yet 20% of SMBs want to send their service rep a text for help. Online request forms are certainly commonly offered. But SMBs are not big fans. These gaps are big opportunities for improving customer experience. That means better retention, more upsell, higher NPS scores.

Learning 3: Personal Service Still Matters

The survey made it very clear that SMBs like personalized service. And there is a significant gap between those who want this level of service and those who receive it. The above chart again lays it out, showing that 57% of SMBs want a dedicated rep, while only 36% say their solutions providers offer this service.

As Matt noted in this audio clip, there is no getting around the cost of personalized service. But it is also a big opportunity for differentiation.

Learning 4: Untapped Potential in Automation

While we’ve learned that SMBs want personalized service from live agents, they are also open to more scalable service options. For example, webinars and online learning platforms. This is good news for solutions providers looking to differentiate with service but in an economically viable way.

In this audio clip from the webinar, Matt talks about what form that scalable component of a service offering might take.

Learning 5: SMBs Want More Collaboration

The survey also showed us that small businesses don’t just want to access customer service to solve immediate problems. They want a collaborative relationship with their solutions providers. What does collaborative mean? As this chart from the white paper shows, small businesses are generally getting help with more transactional needs, such as fixing a bug. But the is a gap when it comes to more collaborative interactions.

In this audio clip, Matt reflects on what SMBs are really looking for from their solutions providers.

 

Do you want to catch the full webinar? You can access the replay here. And if you’d rather read than listen, you can download the white paper here.

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