"Our strength grows out of our weaknesses."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
In recent times, business ideas that are workable from home have become more popular. It not just offers more flexibility to the entrepreneur in terms of working schedules, but often involves a much lesser investment. A healthy work-life balance is also more attainable for those who choose this path. It isn’t just the entrepreneurs who are benefitted, but also customers who stand to gain!
Consumers now have direct access to the products, skills, and services of experts in the industry, without having to go through any ‘official’ delaying procedure — that often comes with larger companies — to get what they want. This ‘direct touch’ is especially important for industries like food and catering, website designing, photography, graphic designing, tutoring and so many more! Of late, even corporate businesses have started paying attention to enhancing the quality of customer relationships, which includes customizing their products and services. However, despite this, do Home Businesses have a headstart when it comes to giving their customers a personalized experience?
There are many reasons why customers would choose a Home Business over a larger, more corporate-looking business, but the ‘trust’ factor is the most crucial from which all other benefits are derived. A parent is more likely to trust their infant with a middle-aged couple operating a babysitting or a daycare centre from their home rather than an outdoor office setup where the employees change every few hours.
The standardized or ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to offering products is on the decline as growing realization indicates that every consumer has different requirements even if the product or service they want is the same. A catering service operating from home, for instance, is better able to know the requirements of the customer as it not just deals with fewer orders on a daily basis, but the communication channels are more informal, enabling a personal touch. The dietary concerns for, say, a senior citizens gathering or a children’s birthday party would be better dealt with by a home catering service rather than a larger restaurant which automatically accepts orders. Food delivery apps have brought a lot of convenience, no doubt, but there is a very limited way for the consumer to indicate if they want a modification in their meal.
There is a rise in the number of professionals choosing to be freelancers. To customers, it means that they can directly communicate with the freelancer and choose products and services that they actually want without having to pay for what they don’t want. This is especially of importance in services where often customers want something very specific and don’t have the need for all the frills and fancies that standardized packages come with — often at a higher price. They can ask specifically for what they want and negotiate for the best deal.
A larger business simply does not have the ability to deliver this level of personalized service to each customer. They not only deal with a large number of customers, but if a customer calls to make a personalized request, the chances of this being successfully implemented largely depends upon the quality of internal communication followed by the organization. The hyper compartmentalization seen in the excessive number of departments also delays most of the processes. Customers would prefer to hire a freelancer, communicate their requirements, and quickly get their job done, rather than go through the tedious process of communicating with various departments of an organization and dealing with several middlemen.
Customization has become a fad in accessories and clothing items like smartphone covers, watches, purses, shoes, imitation jewellery, and handbags. Social media giants like Instagram and Facebook have enabled individuals to monetize their creativity by providing them a platform to showcase their products and directly communicate with potential customers. One cannot hope to receive the same kind of personal touch from big brands. Of course, big brands cater to a different audience for different needs and largely get their prestige from excessive standardization of their products.
Regardless, it certainly is true that in the game of personalization, Home Businesses and even other small-sized businesses are miles ahead. They stand to gain so much if they direct their efforts into capitalizing on this ability to offer customers personalized products, which is nothing less than a goldmine. It comes down to making customers feel special and acknowledging their uniqueness. Whenever customers feel that they are genuinely being listened to, this experience is unparalleled. Such instances of personal touch — in the form of products or customer service — are more likely to be fondly remembered and associated with the business as compared to automated replies and updates from large corporations.
In an age where large scale corporations are booming, we also have brave freelancers and other entrepreneurs daring to offer their skills and services at competitive prices. Consumers are spoilt for choice; there’s a large buffet from the standardized to the customized. Of course, not everyone even has the requirement for a customized product or service always — many people would still choose a plain black phone case purchased from an e-commerce giant over a phone case with an inside joke from their favourite TV series. But the point is that different people care about different products. By Freelancers and Home Business Owners recognizing the potential of Personalization, they can bring a game-changing meaning to Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty.