Survey Reveals What Consumers Look for in a “Go-To” Small Business

With some cities and states beginning to ease restrictions on non-essential businesses, service providers are now hoping that their regulars will soon return. Of course, this begs the question: how do consumers decide which small businesses should become their “go-tos” in the first place? That’s what a recent survey by DaySmart Software aimed to find out.

For their survey, DaySmart spoke with 2,000 consumers who had visited service-based small businesses (hair salons, spa, groomer, etc.) and asked them about what made them frequent the locations that they did. At the top of the list was “quality of service,” which 62% of respondents named as the top factor influencing their decision to elevate a business to “go-to” status. That’s notably higher than the second most important factor: “cost” (40%). Rounding out the top responses were “convenience” and “reputation” with 32% each. Notably, DaySmart’s survey was conducted in February before the COVID-19 pandemic began closing most businesses, thus the absence of such qualities as “cleanliness” or “safety” — both of which will surely play a role in consumer decisions in at least the near term.

On the other end of things, it should come as no surprise that 60% of those surveyed say they’d never return to a small business that botched a service they paid for. Meanwhile half of respondents said they swear off a business if an employee was rude to them. Similarly, 77% report that they’d be at least less inclined to revisit a location from which they received poor customer service.

In terms of loyalty, the survey found that just over half of respondents would consider themselves “regulars” within 10 or fewer visits to a given business. Also interesting is that more than two-thirds of those surveyed said they were more likely to be loyal to a specific employee than to a business itself. As a result, 48% suggested that they would follow their favorite employee if they were to move to a new business.

Speaking to the importance of employee retention and customer loyalty, DaySmart Software’s CEO Jeff Dickerson said, “Employees are the heroes of the customer loyalty story – and the keys to unlocking critical benefits such as repeat business, referrals, constructive feedback and more.” Dickerson went on to explain how his company’s software could benefit businesses, adding, “This survey supports the importance in investing in business management software to free up employees from repetitive, time-consuming tasks so they can pay more attention to learning employee preferences and building social rapport. By implementing the right tools, small businesses are investing in their two greatest assets: their team and their customer base.”

Despite DaySmart’s survey being geared towards businesses that provide specific services, it does serve as a reminder that customer service is critical for small businesses — and even that consumers may be willing to pay a bit more if they’re impressed with the experience that they’re provided. Moreover, while customer loyalty to a specific employee may be less of a factor in retail that in other verticals, staff retention could certainly play a major role in ensuring quality service and keeping customers coming back. So although the current crisis is sure to change how many small businesses operate from here on out, at least the core tenets of what makes a successful business haven’t.

Yes, I do agree that customer service is a big part in choosing my favorite service provider, in which employees play a major role.

Personally, how employyes treat their customer is my first choice, second is the quality of theservice offered.

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Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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