When you’re just starting out in business, your reputation is critical. A business’s reputation is always important, but a company with longevity can withstand a ding here or there better than a new venture can.
What can you do to protect — and build — your company’s reputation from day one?
Customer service is often more important than the quality of your product. If your customer service is bad, clients won’t come back, even if you have a great product. Similarly, if your product is adequate and your customer service is tops, you are on track to be an industry leader.
What aspects of customer service are most important to consumers?
- Go above and beyond the call of duty.
Forbes advises small business owners to do something a lot of successful entrepreneurs already know: Do more for your customers than they expect. If your customer asks you if there’s a water fountain, don’t just point out the cooler — go get them a cup of water. People like to feel special.
If their order is delayed, throw in a freebie for their inconvenience. Freebies are cheap, but they’re powerful because they can quickly erase any hint of dissatisfaction in customers.
- Establish a customer service protocol.
Notice we said protocol and not department. If you have a small business, you are unlikely to require an entire department to handle complaints. But you should still have guidelines for your employees to follow, even if there are just a few of you.
For instance, on your Contact Us page, have a drop-down menu that allows complaints to be flagged. Check this box twice a day. Nothing irks a customer more than a company that takes days to get back to them when they have a problem.
And be consistent in your customer service policy. If a customer is unhappy with their product, under what circumstances do they have to pay for shipping to return it? Always? Only when it’s not due to a company error? Establish rules and practices to follow and stick with them so everyone is treated fairly.
- Build up your online reviews.
Reviews are key to your success. It’s the way many companies get new clients. Word of mouth isn’t dead, but it’s not what it used to be. Consumers may ask their friends for recommendations, but it’s a circuitous method. Why not just log onto Yelp or another third-party review site and search for yourself?
Moreover, a recent study shows that 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews more than recommendations from friends. So this is a critical part of building your business’s online reputation. And don’t worry about bad reviews. If all your reviews are good, your customers will think they’re fake. Your goal is to amass lots of reviews.
Get out of the office.The more you’re out there, the more others will look up to you as an important contributor to your industry.
You don’t have to be in sales to know that you get noticed more when you’re out and about. Attend industry conferences, join associations and network. Once you’re comfortable out in your element, take it a step further and work to get articles published. Try to get a spot on the agenda at an association meeting or forum.
When you’re just starting out, your business reputation is more important than ever. Money can be tight, and you likely won’t have the budget for a public relations department. One good way for new companies to save money is to use shared office space or temporary office space. No leases, no monthly payments to make toward purchases for furniture and equipment. Metro Offices has everything you need, right now. Compare what it costs to run your own office vs. simply letting Metro Offices do the work for you.