“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it - think about that and you’ll do things differently" - Warren Buffett
How your business is perceived determines your success. Make a dedicated effort to put customers first, deal fairly with your staff and adopt an honest style of business and you can build a brand that you can be proud of.
However, there are a few key things to remember when building on the profile of your company whether it’s a one-person show or a well-staffed small business. Here’s are some of our recommendations to help your business make its mark and maintain standards.
Communication is King
Communication with existing clients, new customers and complaints should be a priority in your day-to-day duties. Letting people know you can listen to them shows that you care about your reputation and it’s not all about making a buck.
Have a look at Blog #3 in our existing business category for information about CRM systems that make communicating and building relationships with customers a lot easier.
If you have other people working for you, encourage them to use their name when they are dealing with customer queries. This sets the tone and allows the customer to put a name to the person reaching out them rather than a generic info@email address.
When dealing with queries or feedback, always take the bad with the good. Nobody likes to hear negative comments, but buyer feedback can always teach you something new.
When dealing with a frustrated customer, take their issue seriously, deal with their problem in a timely fashion and take steps to ensure the problem is not repeated.
What are your business claims? Are you really Ireland’s leading baker, the only artisan food provider in the area, or the first of your kind? We can lose the run of ourselves when the marketing side of business acumen kicks in and you feel the need to big up your business idea.
Take a step back and look at what you can deliver or do in the most honest way possible. It has never been easier for a customer to give their public opinion on your business claims, so try not to over do it and run the risk of being seen to be misleading customers.
Your price should be consistent with the quality you provide in comparison to your competitors.
Rule of thumb: always under-promise, over-deliver.
Decide what you can do and what your business is about and own that identity – if that means you produce a good product in a slightly longer time, so be it!
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Protect your reputation
When business is good, it can be easy to forget the need to keep building on your reputation. This is exactly when you should be reaching out to those who have helped make you a success.
Ask clients for testimonials on social media and Google reviews. Genuine reviews resonate with others and are likely to entice new customers your way.
Create uniformity in your approach when dealing with customers – the small spender is as deserving of your attention as the bigger clients. Make every one of your customers feel like they are special in your eyes as word of mouth marketing can be the most cost-effective way of getting new customers.
Mind your manners
A kind word and a smile can go a long way towards building your reputation. There will be working days where you feel like you don’t have a free minute and those are the times you will get the awkward request or unfamiliar query.
Refuse to crumble under the pressure, put a smile on your face, and remember that this person is supporting your business.
If you don’t know the answer to their question, take their details and tell them you will find out and get back to them. If you are busy when a client calls, arrange a time when you will have more time and you can talk to them freely.
A great customer service record is built over years, so do your best to maintain a daily professional standard in the way you deal with the public.
You can’t please them all
Negativity can’t be avoided no matter how good you are with your business. There will always be someone you simply can’t satisfy, and that dissatisfaction may culminate in an unwanted review or nasty social media post.
The important thing is to focus on the numerous positive comments and resist lashing out if you feel you have been unfairly criticised.
If someone makes a complaint about your business online, stay calm and make a reasonable assessment of the situation. The worst thing that you can do in this instance is to find yourself involved in a petty dispute with the perpetrator. Stay professional and try to acknowledge and remedy the situation if the fault lies on your behalf. Remember that there will be other eyes watching and that in any argument; the most reasonable-appearing person always comes out on top.
If the comments seem unreasonably cruel, don’t engage with them. There are ways and means of having such remarks removed from social media platforms via moderators.
The buying public are wise to such trolls and their activities, and can quickly see through any false negativity. Stay strong and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Brand building is hugely important but so too is taking a moment out to say thanks to those who have supported you in business. This could be friends, suppliers, that first client or even the local coffee shop that let you sit for hours with your laptop in the early days as you set yourself up.
Say thanks to those who have helped you on your way and reciprocate that help. You may know of a new business owner who is struggling with their start up and needs some advice, just like you once did.
Make time for others, apply customer loyalty discounts where you can, and use your social media pages to voice your appreciation.
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Microfinance Ireland aims to provide information and support tools to help your business be successful.
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