As any business owner knows, perception is reality. Your customers will judge you on your actions and how you handle situations.
Of course you want the best for your company and your customers, but your actions could be holding you back.
Your business might be one of the best around, but it’s important not to overlook the details.
Here are a few bad habits you might be making and how your business could lose customers as a result.
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You Talk Too Much
Anyone with small children knows they talk a lot. Little kids love telling long, elaborate stories and belting out their favorite Frozen rendition.
And they likely do this with a loud, annoying toy in tow.
So what do parents do? They tune out the noise and chatter until their full attention is needed.
The truth is, your customers might think you’re that chattering child.
If you find yourself rambling without listening to what the customer really needs, you’re trying to sell them on lip-service that will never resonate.
Selling a client on bamboo floors with a linoleum budget will make the customer feel like you’re not in tune with their needs or their budget.
Sure, it’s important to talk, but sometimes so much more can be learned by sitting back and listening.
Ask questions to get to the root of your customers’ needs. As they’re speaking, truly listen.
If they lament about having kids and dogs, they’ll likely need a durable flooring option. If they mention they own a 100-year old home, prepare them for costs not usually associated with newer builds.
If customers feel you have their best interest in mind, they’re more likely to feel like they’re not getting a hard sell and more likely to trust your recommendation.
You Badmouth Your Competitors
Competitive spirit is an excellent trait, so long as you’re not doing it in spite of your competition. Yes, you want a new customer, but talking badly about a competitor won’t do you, or them, any favors.
Bashing the competition is self-fulfilling and rarely leads to long-term gain. Stay humbly boastful, but don’t succumb to making false accusations, starting rumors, or talking down the competition.
Someone could be watching or listening, and taking silent notes about your level of professionalism.
Plus, a lack of tact could reflect poorly on you, especially on social media exchanges.
Your best solution: play nicely together in the sandbox. You’d be surprised how far kindness might go. Plus, positive word-of-mouth spreads quickly and results in far more business than any negative reviews.
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You Has Pour Grammar
See what I did there?
In all seriousness, grammar is the crux of basic communication. It must be correct or you risk losing credibility and appearing less educated than you really are.
So, where exactly is your grammar being judged? You can bet customers are assessing:
- Email Exchanges - Emails must be grammatically correct, short and responsive. Also, the "fat finger" rule on smartphones does not apply here; both need to be correct.
- Your Website - It should be helpful, aesthetically pleasing, and have good copy. As such, customers will be rewarded with a positive experience.
- Your Business and Personal Social Media Accounts - Potential customers actively ask for recommendations on social media and pay close attention to both your professional and personal responses. How you respond, and how you deal with criticisms, will be noted.
- Your Signage - Make sure you’re using the correct word to avoid an embarrassing mistake. Customers do notice these errors.
When your written communications are well crafted, thought out, and grammatically correct, customers view your company as articulate and professional, and a potentially good fit for their needs.
You Don’t Communicate Clearly and Consistently
Customers are interested in the details, but they’re not telepathic. A positive customer experience starts with clear and consistent communication.
For instance, say you’re in the market for a new heater and you come across Bob’s Bargain Repair and Alan’s Affordable Repair.
Both are in the same industry, but they handle communication differently.
Bob’s Bargain Repair returns your call and gives you a quote without ever seeing your heater. Bob’s price is competitive, but he’s pushing for an immediate commitment.
Reluctantly, you say, "OK" and a week later, Bob appears unannounced at your door.
After begrudgingly allowing him in your home, your heater is repaired but you’re hit with an invoice for hidden fees Bob never mentioned.
Alan’s Affordable Repair sets up an appointment to look at the heater before giving a quote. Alan confirms the appointment 30 minutes before arriving with an image of himself so you know who to expect.
Upon his arrival, he confirms your heater needs replacing and plans an immediate installation upon handing you a clearly marked quote.
In the days following your heater repair, Alan checks back in on your family to make sure everything is working as expected, and a year later will contact you again to do a courtesy check-up.
Left with the two experiences, Alan is likely to benefit from better recommendations because his communication was clear and consistent.
There was nothing left to question on behalf of the customer, and he stayed true to his commitments.
Sure, it might feel like over communication at first, but there’s a good chance your customers will welcome the communication more so than being left in the dark. Or even worse, surprised.
But don’t forget, don’t overcomplicate communication either. Sometimes you’ll have a client that wants to move away from your product or service.
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While it’s important to try to retain or save that relationship, there is a such thing as overkill.
Comcast knows this first hand. Take a listen. It’s a glorious example of what not to do:
If you’re a business owner or even have a side hustle, take note of these suggestions.
It’s not too late to take a step back, assess what needs to change, and re-engage with your customers.
In the end, it's the positioning and stature of your brand that matters most.