Sometimes in life – and definitely in business – you have to start at the end and work backward, retracing your steps to understand where you went wrong. That’s what we’re going to do today, focusing on the idea of how your business is perceived.
If perception is a reality – as a common phrase insists – then there is perhaps little more important than the perception customers have of your business. Even more importantly, the perception that potential customers have of your business. We can all think of how we’d like to be thought of – that’s the easy bit, but what about the perceptions we have to avoid at all costs?
Starting at the end, you can work back and fix any potential reasons someone might perceive your business in a negative light. So what’s the worst that can happen – and what steps you can take to stop that becoming your new reality?
“Out Of Touch”
There are lucrative demographics when it comes to business, but none quite so lucrative as the 30-50 age bracket. This is the bracket where people have disposable income, and it’s one that businesses have to target to have any chance of succeeding.
The worst thing this demographic can perceive your business to be is out of touch. This is a section of society who were raised on the internet; not quite digital natives, but firm adopters, the early pioneers. They know the digital world and they expect you to as well. You have to ensure you do so by getting the most from your business’s web design, usage of social media, and how you interact with customers. Don’t just know the trends; make sure you are the trend.
A company that is distant is a bad company. Now, more than ever, customers want to feel like they can engage with a company in a realistic way. Don’t just have a Twitter feed because you know a business needs one; use it to interact and show that your company is alive and well. Keep it friendly, stay away from mentions of current affairs (not abiding by this has got several companies into uncomfortable situations on Twitter – so steer clear), and be available to talk.
If customers feel that you don’t want to engage with them or care about anything other than their money, they’re likely to just go and find a company that does give them what they need. No more hiding behind a desk; you’ve got to be willing to step out with a smile and engage.
Perhaps the worst of all; if your company is perceived as dismissive, then you’re in trouble. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with problems and complaints.
Customers aren’t stupid. Most are able to understand that, even with the best of intentions, occasionally something might go wrong with their order. There might be a delay, stock issues, or – if you’re a sole trader – you’ve overbooked yourself. That bit doesn’t necessarily matter.
What does matter is how you respond to it. If you don’t own the mistake and offer a way to rectify it, then your company will soon be lurching towards dismissive. Ask your customers for their understanding rather than telling them what’s happening, and suddenly, you can turn a bad experience into a positive one.