How to Merge Business Development with Business Etiquette
By: Meredith Flory
As you grow and develop your small business, it’s important to not lose the special touches in customer service that encourage customers to support local and aspiring companies. There are ways to build into your business while being conscious of how your company interacts with the public. As you grow your company, be mindful of the ways you establish company etiquette, with an eye to the values and ethics that are important to you. Here are ways to think about interacting with customers, social media, and business partners while maintaining the values you established when your business was just a dream.
1. Interacting with Customers
Make customer service a part of your business plan. Thanks to online shopping and increasing interconnectedness, small business doesn’t have to be local, and customers can purchase goods and services from around the world. This means you need to stand out in the quality of goods and ease of customer service. Make sure to include in company planning what customer service looks like for your business. Growth plans shouldn’t only include product and sales but should also outline how you treat people and what kind of business culture you are developing.
Make sure employees are trained and committed to customer service. Do not assume when you make a hire that your employees will interact with customers the same way you would, even if you hired them in part due to their people skills. Establish company guidelines for behaviors such as time limits on returning contacts, away messages, language, and expectations for handling problems. Making this a part of job training, rather than fixing a problem when it appears, will help you, the employee, and the client. Win, win, win.
2. Interacting with Social Media
Don’t use clickbait promotions or promises. Make sure programs that offer discounts, customer rewards, or other added values live up to the wording the customer is presented with on the initial advertisement or social media post. Customers will value the honesty and trust how you are using their information.
Make a clear decision as to what your company will post about on social media. If you will step into social issues, politics, or other concerns that are not necessarily directly connected to your product, make sure to set clear guidelines as to the values that are important to you as a company ahead of time so that staff or customers are not taken completely by surprise. If an issue is important to you as a community leader or brand, you should absolutely speak out, but make sure you do so with intention rather than in-the-moment emotions.
Keep track of online reviews. Customers today have a multitude of ways they can praise or complain about businesses. Where possible, have an employee read through reviews and look for trends, both good and bad. If there are patterns, rather than individual anomalies, for things customers raved about or voiced as public complaints, think about how you can use this feedback to continue offering stellar service or to improve areas of difficulty. Consider rewarding loyal, happy customers who help your word of mouth by highlighting them on your social media platforms or offering a discount or perk for future services. Thank and respond to dissatisfied customers when possible.
3. Interacting with Other Businesses
Take care how you treat employees and business partners. We recognize it’s important to set time guidelines for communication with customers and to treat current and potential clients with respect; developing these same positive communications in the workplace can help employees feel confident and committed to the work they do as well. Raise the bar for interacting with coworkers and business partners by setting an example and clear expectations of consistent communication of needs, deadlines, and plans. As you develop your business, think about the etiquette you expect in the workplace to foster growth, ideas, and teamwork.
And last but not least . . .
Consider what tools you need to succeed. As your business grows, you may need to incorporate business partners, new employees, or apps and software to help maintain the same level of customer service. Continue to work in your strengths while outsourcing or deferring to other employees for the areas in which you need help. Whether it’s something small like using an app to schedule social media posts, or a large decision such as hiring a new employee or contracting a business partner, taking the time to research and investing in your growth is important. Powerhouse Planning is here to help you succeed with our PowerTips e-Newsletter and a wide range of contract services.