91% of Customers Prefer Small Businesses When Convenient

what customers want in 2019

Tailored offerings and great customer service allow Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) to forge deeper personal relationships with customers, according to a survey conducted by Zendesk. The Big Expectations, Small businesses: What Customers Want survey (PDF) indicates that 91% of respondents prefer small businesses when convenient, while 74% actively search for opportunities to support SMBs even when it is not convenient.

The advantage small businesses have is their ability to provide niche and differentiating offerings to meet customer demand. In turn, these happy customers will give positive reviews to acquaintances and coworkers — boosting their reputation.

The survey supports this. And according to the respondents, the ease of building relationships with customers (65%) is a top positive attribute of small businesses. This was followed by the convenience of doing business with them at 44%. Interestingly, 65% say they simply feel good about supporting smaller organizations.

Willing to Splurge More for Quality and Attention

In regards to supporting small business, 77% say they are willing to pay more in their support. Great customer service is key here to get that extra dollar. At the same time, small businesses have to respond to pricing pressures from larger companies. Most of the respondents (71%) expect small companies to give better attention and service and as such are willing to reward them accordingly.

On the flip side, only 4% said they will give a small company a pass for shoddy service. They go on to say the reason is because good customer service is typical for them. The respondents also say their bad experience with a small business is less than half (42%) compared to large companies.

On specific customer service factors, small companies outpace corporations by more than 2 to 1 in ratings. These include speed of response (53% vs. 23%); working with knowledgeable staff (51% vs. 15%); the feeling of having a relationship (50% vs. 23%); time to resolve an inquiry (46% vs. 21%); being flexible (43% vs. 14%); and enjoying the interaction with staff (40% vs. 19%). Despite these comparative disadvantages, corporations lead small businesses in pricing. This is a factor customers are willing to overlook with only 23% saying it was more important.

What Customers Want in 2019

A resounding number of respondents (86%) say a smooth experience is key to their heart. Most of them prioritizing companies that don’t make them constantly repeat the same information or send reminder inquiries. Equally important for them is when companies acknowledge their initial inquiry quickly (85%).

Almost everyone who had a good customer experience (94%) say it changes their behavior in some way. With two-thirds stating they bought more products or services as a direct result of good interactions. This led more than half (54%) to recommend those products or services to someone they know.

The same goes for bad experiences as well. Of the 42% of the respondents who had a bad experience, almost all or 95% say they are bad for the business. Half of them stopped buying from the company while another 46% switched providers for the product or service. And almost a third or 29% say they told people they know not to buy those products or services.

Buying behavior is also determined by age, older generations (77%) are more likely to report having stopped buying from a company due to bad customer interaction than younger generations. Men (55%) were more likely to report stopping buying from a company than women (46%) based on a bad customer service experience.


Businesses, whether big or small know great customer service will keep their enterprise growing. The advantage a small company has over a large one is the ability to deliver great customer service consistently.

As this survey points out, if you keep treating your customers like kings, the will repay you by coming back and telling everyone they know about you.

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.