Thoughts on customer service solutions for the SMB market


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In an conversation with Alex Bard, CEO of Assistly (now of, I learned a couple of interesting things about customer service solutions for small to mid-sized businesses (SMB). They are: (1) Companies can be too small to have customer service organizations; (2) The main competition of vendors of SMB customer service solutions is not each other, but post-it notes and gmail and; (3) the service that the SMB customer demands is exactly like the service that enterprise customers demand.

So, what do each of these points mean?

  • Companies can be too small to have customer service organizations – Without a formal customer service organization, customer-facing personnel such as customer relations managers, CEOs and marketing are on the hook to answer customer inquiries. These employees wear many hats, are on the road and incessantly communicate with one another. Most probably, these companies also don’t have formal IT organizations. This means that customer service software must be tailored to a business user – easy to deploy, and configure, and must support the multitude of mobile devices in use today. Customer service software must also have built-in collaboration features, alerts and notifications allowing for personnel to quickly work together on a customer issue for quick resolution.
  • The main competition of vendors of SMB are not each other, but post-it notes and gmail. The SMB market has been underserved for a long time, and established software vendors price points are too high to support a handful of users within a company, some of which may only be part time or occasional users. New usage –based models are making the purchase of customer service solutions viable for companies who would otherwise have managed customer inquiries using gmail, post-it notes and TweetDeck.
  • SMB customers and enterprise customers demand the same type of customer experience. What this means is that customers expect to be able to contact a company using voice, electronic (ex email, SMS, chat) and social communication channels. They expect to be able to start a conversation on one channel, and continue it on another. They expect conversations across all channels to convey the same information, data and knowledge. And they expect each interaction to be tailored to the products and services that they have purchased, and the issue at hand. This means that the sophistication of customer service solutions for the SMB market is not much less than what is needed for the enterprise. See my 10-part blog post on how to deliver an optimal customer service experience.

There are a number of customer service vendors in the SMB market, and Paul Greenberg on his CRM Idol site has done a wonderful job profiling a great number of these companies.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Leggett
Kate serves Business Process Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer service strategies. Her research focuses on helping organizations establish and validate customer service strategies strategies, prioritize and focus customer service projects, facilitate customer service vendor selection, and plan for project success.


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