It’s not news that by building relationships with customers, brands can expect higher loyalty rates, and reap the rewards of repeat business.

Large and small brands have gone online in an effort to reach their customers through social media, and engage with them on a personal level.

Large versus small companies

As a large business, it becomes more difficult to engage with customers on a personal level. An agent working in a call centre, for example, is unlikely to take the same customer’s call twice by coincidence.

Small companies have the edge when it comes to building customer relationships. They have the advantage of being known locally, and often the same few people will handle customer questions or concerns.

How can big businesses compete with the little guy?

Customer relationships are the new cornerstone of customer service, which was lately discovered to be the cornerstone of marketing.

Social media brings brands closer to their customers than ever before. They can be accessible at any time, no matter where the customer is or what they are doing. The likes of Twitter and Facebook have opened up customer service to a whole new level.

For instance, large brands are suddenly being held accountable by their customers. Both British Airways and BMW have experienced an almost violent backlash from consumers who were dissatisfied with customer service.

With customers of large companies expecting a higher level of service than they are sometimes receiving, how can big corporations improve engagement and develop customer relationships?

Social media

Small brands like it because it can make their firms appear larger, whereas big companies like it because it gives them direct insight to what their customers want.

Small businesses benefit from the sense of community that exists around them. Large companies, on the other hand, can be seen as the big bad wolf, especially when customer service goes wrong.

Use customer service to communicate with your customers. Mobile devices bring brands even closer to their consumers, as people tweet, write status updates and blog about their experiences, sharing them with their friends.

Match your standards to your customers’

33% of people will take to social media with a customer service issue before they make a phone call. That is an important statistic: instances of customer support online can go viral.

People will see how you respond, and make judgements on your company based on someone else’s experience.

Customers expect a speedy response when they reach out to large businesses online. When Hasan Said’s complaint to British airways went viral, he said, “how does a billion dollar corp only have 9-5 social media support for a business that operates 24/7?”

When customers interact with large brands, they assume they are big enough to be on call to help with concerns at any time of day.

This is something that small brands cannot hope to achieve. But for large businesses, going to extra mile to provide this service and meet customer expectations can be very important.

Build real relationships

Great responses to bad situations are essentially human. Make sure your staff provide empathetic and flexible support for your customers when something goes wrong.

That way, when your customer walks away from that interaction with your brand, they will be thinking of the human response. Of the relationship they built, not the brand they just dealt with. But they will continue to associate that good experience with your brand.


Furthermore, the Big-Brand-Wolf image that some people have of large corporations could actually be a good thing for big brands. Exceed expectation, and surprise customers with a personal, friendly, helpful and flexible response.

Your customers will be happy to be proven wrong. You will win points for not being how they might have perceived you in the first place.

Good acrobatics

Customer service is about more than just responding to questions and complaints. You have to let your customers know that you’re accessible, ready to help, and are more than happy to bend over backwards for them.

Gemma Harding
Gemma Harding

As Head of Client Services Gemma is an expert in the telephone answering services industry.