This past week I received good service from four companies—Apple, Bass Pro Shops, Custom Printing and Roper’s Collision Center. But, the stores I would tell stories about this week are from the two small businesses you never heard of…unless you live in my neighborhood!

Apple was very good, mind you, but after I bought a new Apple MacBook Air, they did not call me to see how it was behaving. But, Roper called after having my car in their operating room! Bass Pro Shops did not remember my unique fishing expectations when I gave them my credit card at one of their many cash registers. But, Custom Printing has “unique” hardwired into their brand name!

How did Custom and Roper’s trump the big guys? With monogrammed service! It is the main thing small businesses have over the companies with giant inventory, sophisticated CRM systems, and volume-driven low prices. However, most customers want value, not just low price. Research tells us that customers today will pay 15-20% more for a customer experience that produces an amazing memory with a story to tell. It is why innovative service can be the small business distinguisher.

While I was waiting for my car to be washed at Roper’s, I filled out a simple card aimed at giving me a discount and future alerts on special offerings. Within five minutes after I drove my super clean car off their lot, I got a text from the owner thanking me for my business and offering to do the wash job over at no charge if I was not thrilled with how it looked. Does War-Mart, Target, J Crew or Costco do that for you?

And now for the best example? The store where I buy adult beverages, The Oconee Cellar, sent me a birthday card last month!

The biggest barrier to monogrammed customer experience is scale. Wal-Mart asks for my driver’s license when I give them my credit card, like many other large organizations. But, their sheer size is a barrier to the birthday card idea—over 100 million customers served each week. And, that is the edge small businesses can enjoy. Turn your customers into devoted fans by delivering a monogrammed customer experience!

If you’re looking for some help in making sure your small business is truly providing innovative service, try my Small Business Audit. It’s free and will help you distinguish your business from the big boys with truly remarkable service!