Here’s a couple of themes that you read about often as a business owner: customer service, and branding.
These are often presented as two separate disciplines, but in fact, they complement each other by allowing business owners like you the ability to build an unstoppable foundation for your company.
And since the foundation is the most important component of any structure, it makes sense that you’d learn how to structure yours by following the examples of companies who have learned how to get things right.
Here’s the best part:
You don’t have to operate as a major conglomerate or even, operate like a company listed in Fortune magazine.
Combining excellent customer service and branding strategies that generate customer retention in the future are things that even solo creatives can implement, now!
Never take your clients/customers for granted
In the course managing day-to-day operations, especially if you’re a solo-entrepreneur, it’s all too easy to lose sight of core values.
It’s far too easy to believe that your business exists to send out invoices. But if your customers or clients aren’t happy, then you can forget about generating money, right?
Smart businesses realise that’s it’s all about the people who buy into the company’s products or services. Sure, there are times when the customer/client isn’t always right, but at the end of the day, your business exists to serve others.
Imagine if your newly-built house had a coffee bar area, a cocktail bar inside of your gameroom, and a snack bar inside of your entertainment room.
Now, imagine if the walls inside of your house were decorated with fine Picasso prints, and contemporary chandelier lighting? Oh yeah, imagine if you had a cook eager to serve you a fresh omelette or waffles every morning?
You’d probably have all of your friends finding reasons to visit, and you’d be hard-pressed to hang out anywhere else!
Empowered employees are a sign of strong management
Sometimes, a sign of great management and business structure isn’t only apparent when everything’s going right, but it also becomes apparent when things go wrong.
Simon Sinek was quoted in the Houston Chronicle’s Small Business section as saying:
Empowered employees have the power to make decisions without a supervisor. They are entitled to go off script, bend the rules, do what they see fit if they believe it is the right thing to do for the customer.
More than any other kind of employee, the empowered employee is able to create a feeling of true customer service that ultimately yields much greater customer loyalty
Companies that give employees the freedom to make decisions on the spur of the moment often find that service to internal and external customers is improved.
And Randi Busse, author of the book Turning Rants Into Raves talks about the following four business drivers that result from employee (or contractor) empowerment:
Revenue: Will a decision I’m making for the customer cost the company extra money? Most of the time, the correct answer is no. That said, sometimes it’s okay for it to cost extra. The employee needs to know how far they can go.
Retention: Will a decision I’m making for the customer cause them to want to continue to do business with us? Obviously, the correct answer is yes.
Reputation: Will a decision I’m making for the customer enhance the reputation of the company? The answer is yes.
Referrals: Will a decision I’m making for the customer make them want to refer the company? I hope so! Of course the answer should be yes.
As managers, it’s easy to see our role as resident problem solver. (But)what it does not mean is that it’s your job to solve all of your employees’ problems.
Once a staff person starts seeing you as the person they can dump their problem on and walk away knowing it will be handled, guess what will happen the moment that person runs into another roadblock?
Employees (or contractors) learn with astonishing rapidity that they only need to make a mention of some annoyance, and, voila – it’s your problem now.
For busy managers on the receiving end of these issues, it can be entirely too easy to rely on your power and authority to continually put out the fires.
If you’ve found yourself the recipient of more than a few of these ‘fly by’ complaints, or are hearing employees sounding powerless when they bring you their problems, it can be far more beneficial to both of you to help them help themselves.
Again, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when you’re bogged down with daily tasks. But what I witnessed during my stay at the La Copa Inn property and during my interactions with other business owners/service providers in South Padre Island was insight into the big picture.
Customers know companies that provide great customer service and expect it from all of their suppliers. And, they use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin or crowd sourcing applications like Yelp and Tripadvisor to tell their friends, family, and strangers when they have excellent customer service or bad customer service.
And while your company might not generate positive reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, you can believe that your prospects are checking you out sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Your previous clients and customers are leaving online reviews for others to consider, too. Don’t you want the foundation for your brand to check out favorably?
Scott is a content marketing storyteller and strategist, who teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes, wrote this for blog.bidsketch.com.