In business, professionalism and image are critical. Everything you say, and don’t say, do and don’t do – everything about you tells a story. That story is either impressing your clients or pushing them away.
See, there’s something you need to understand. No matter what your business happens to be, you’re replaceable. No matter your niche, don’t think of yourself so highly that you imagine there’s no competition for what you have to offer.
Sadly, many business owners seem to have this idea that they can’t be replaced – as if their clients can’t simply go somewhere else. I’ve met business owners who don’t understand this simple concept. They think they can treat their customers poorly and still make money. My friend, that’s simply not the case.
Look, I don’t care what you do. You will be yesterday’s news if you don’t protect your image and ensure that everything you do backs up the kind of person you say you are and the kind of business you claim to have.
Even unintentionally, you could be doing serious damage to your reputation and your business if you commit one of these fatal mistakes.
Lack of communication
They say communication is the key to a successful relationship. Keep your client posted. If there’s a problem – or if you can’t deliver what you promised – your client deserves to know.
I recently had a package I expected on a certain day. The day came and went. No package. Normally, I could live with except for the fact I really needed it that day and I had no communication from the sender.
If they had sent me a message saying something like, “Hey, I’m so sorry! Your package is on the way but might not get there until tomorrow,” I can understand that. It’s irritating, but communication would make it less irritating.
I shouldn’t have to contact the seller and ask, “Where’s my package?”
Proactively communicate with your clients. Don’t make them wonder what’s going on.
My web design clients usually have something of a schedule, and it’s important to them that we stay as close to that schedule as possible. They want to know in no uncertain terms when XYZ is going to happen. I need to be sure to communicate to them where we are, and what the next step is.
Status updates. Oh this is so important. Keep your client updated. Don’t let them wonder about the status of your project. Shoot them little status updates, “Hey, just letting you know this is done, and now we are ready to ____” and so on. You’ll find that gets you a lot of good will.
When you communicate, be clear and consistent. To the best of your ability, use correct grammar and ensure your wording is easily understood by all.
Be friendly. No one likes a curt, distant, unfriendly response from a company – no matter the size. Remember that your clients are people just like you who want to see a smiling face and a helping hand. Make sure you’re doing your best to be that smiling face for them.
Don’t make your client wait any longer than absolutely necessary. Every order should be fulfilled as quickly as possible. And if there’s a delay, apologize. This is something that turns me off to a business more than anything else.
Making me wait is bad enough. Making me wait and not acknowledging that I’ve been inconvenienced is worse.
Make it right. Understand that every delay – even if it seems inconvenient to you is potentially irritating to your client.
Not getting my package on the day I expected it was irritating. Even though communication from the seller would have made the situation better, it was still a major inconvenience and needed to be made right.
Now, while communication would have made me a little less salty, the fact that I didn’t receive my package when it was promised is certainly not cool, and the seller had to make it right.
Promising something and not delivering on time, making your client wonder what’s going on is a classic business blunder, and you’ll wind up disappointing your clients and possibly even losing their business.
There are few things I dislike in business more than broken promises. I don’t care what your niche is. I don’t care what you do. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Unfulfilled promises make people lose trust in you and your brand very very quickly.
I dabble with 3D design on the side. I wouldn’t say I’m great at it, but I know enough to be dangerous. One particular program I used ot enjoy using had a serious design flaw. The developer of this program promised a slick, new, updated version of the software for everyone who bought a membership (at the time, over $399 dollars). Many people bought in, eagerly anticipating this new, fancy update. Months went by. Six months. A year. A year and a half. Nothing. The company was silent about this mysterious update. A short time later, they came back and said essentially, “Ah. Right. Sorry about that. We’ve decided not to do that.”
Ah. So. Essentially, all of these people have paid into a program and will not be receiving that for which they paid? Is that what we are to understand?
And apparently, that is indeed the case.
This broken promise sent a wave through the community of users this program enjoyed. No more were we fawning over every little update wondering if this is the one. Our trust had been betrayed. We were disappointed. Angry. Done.
This is an extreme example, but you too, dear reader, can be guilty of this very thing. If you tell your client – or potential client – that you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t change your mind and disappear. That’s a sure way to lose a lot of trust.
Ok, so I was wrong. This is my least favorite thing in business. Excuses.
100% of people alive today are fallible. We will mess up. Sometimes in big ways. Sometimes in small ways. But when you do, own up to it.
Few things will turn me off to a brand faster than excuses.
If you can’t do what you promised, don’t give me some song and dance about it not being your fault.
It’s like a guy who wakes up two minutes before he’s supposed to be at work, which is 30 minutes away. He jumps out of bed, Speeds to the office and still arrives over 30 minutes late. When his boss asks him why he’s late, he blames the traffic.
I respect a person who can admit, “I messed up” far more than someone who blames external forces for his mistakes.
Your clients will too.
Keep Your Clients Happy
As a business owner, your job is to ensure your clients stay happy. Remember, if they aren’t happy for any reason, they can drop you like a hot potato and find someone who can meet their needs.
Don’t make them wait, and keep them informed. When you do make a mistake, own up to it and make it right.
Sadly, many businesses seem to have forgotten the basic rules of the client-business relationship.
A business without clients is just a hobby. And unless you want a hobby that can’t pay the bills, sit up, pay attention, and make sure your customers get what they need.