As if managing inventory, keeping the books, and launching new products and services weren’t difficult enough, running a business also requires vigilant attention to company image. Avoid things that make your business look bad.
Making Promises You Can’t Keep
Your mother taught you that honesty is the best policy, and she was right. You may have big plans for expansion, new products and services, or splashy events, but make sure you can follow through. Premature offers or poor planning will disappoint customers and send them elsewhere. Stringing clients along until you can do what you said you’d do will only make it worse. The best course is to ensure that your business is running smoothly and that you have a back-up plan for unexpected interruptions in supplies or breakdowns in equipment. Promise only what you know you can deliver within a time frame you know you can meet
Employees Behaving Badly
There’s nothing quite like waking up to a viral video of your front-line employee berating a customer. Avoid employees making your business look bad by hiring good people in the first place. Check references, verify work history, and be very clear about company behavior policies. Abusing a customer is so out of line that no one should be surprised when you fire the offender. A viral problem requires a public response, so be prepared with an apology and an explanation that confirms you do not tolerate such behavior.
Poor Customer Service
Even if they aren’t caught on video, employees can harm your business if they don’t understand the meaning of good customer service. Provide detailed training about service expectations, including how to sound welcoming, helpful, and polite both in person and on the phone. When employees are confident that their employer cares about them, they will be more invested in the business and will value how their customer service helps the business grow.
Cluttered or Nonexistent Website
The first place most prospective customers and clients will look for information about your business is your website. Make it easy to find and easy to read. At a minimum, briefly describe the products and services you offer, and include a phone number, email address, and directions. Use your website to provide essential information and set customer expectations that match what your business can do.
Sloppy Storefronts and Offensive Offices
You put directions on your website—good for you. However, customers will turn around and leave when they see a stained carpet, grubby windows, and a tortured tangle of computer cables crawling all over the floor. An attractive physical presence is still important for most businesses, even if yours is a small, two-person office. Take a long look at your physical environment through a visitor’s eyes. Tidy up and remove objects that present a partisan point of view that might make customers feel unwelcome.
Treating people well, respecting your employees and your customers, and providing exceptional service will help you nurture and maintain your business’s image.