Small businesses still just “get it”

Small businesses have always led the way in delivering memorable customer experiences. Unlike many larger companies, they are often close enough to their customers to understand what is important and focus resolutely on delivering those services. Customers don’t get lost in a sea of data, metrics and reporting. And small businesses have an all too real awareness of the link between profitability and customer satisfaction.

However, they don’t always make the most of the technology available to them to enhance the experience. Perhaps, believing it to be too cost-prohibitive or in some cases, not having the confidence in their own ability to use the technology effectively.

This was not the case recently, when I had a fantastic experience from a small, local company. As the festive season fast approaches, I was booking our annual Santa Train trip with Great Central Railway. I went through the usual online booking process but when I tried to submit all my details and complete the booking nothing happened. I was in that dilemma of all dilemmas when booking anything online – do you hit the submit button again? I took a deep breath and went for it and again, nothing happened.

Then, just a few minutes later an email arrived. And a minute or so later, a second one. Whilst these emails had my details on there was no confirmation of booking and so I made a mental note to ring the company the following morning to see if I had made 1, 2 or 0 bookings.

The next morning, I awoke to three new emails. The first from Great Central Railway, stating there had been a problem with their system and that neither of my bookings had been successful, however, I had been refunded for both payments. The two other emails were confirmation of the refunds themselves. What a great service. Overnight the standard system checks had not only identified the problem, but rectified and notified me in a clear and apologetic way.

Now most people won’t even have heard of Great Central Railway, but it is a small organisation, supported by a trust and ran largely with the help of volunteers and members. This small company has had the forethought to recognise that customers value safe and secure booking and if occasionally this doesn’t work effectively, customers need reassurances that any problems have been rectified. They have also recognised the efficiencies of automating all of this so their limited resources are not capitalised on resolving booking problems. A great demonstration of a super experience and efficient management of potential problems. I will be re-booking.