The longer I work as a marketing consultant, the more shocked I am at unprofessional business owners. You might think I would get over it at some point. But I still find myself irrationally angry when a prospect misses a call without telling me. Most owners want to improve their business, but don’t understand that customer service is the most important path to success. So they don’t prioritize it and, eventually, they’re showing up late to meetings or ignoring important customer requests. Well, my friend, I have news for you: your business is failing because you can’t even show basic respect for your customer. Luckily, you only need to change 5 major things to get on the path from totally unprofessional to far more respected.
Show Up On Time
It’s common knowledge by now you that will have formed opinions about someone within a single second of meeting them. But do you realize that your clients may be developing those beliefs before you ever even meet? Things like timeliness, online interactions, and your attitude shine through in ways you may never have realized. This means your business is failing because your potential customers are walking out the door before the meeting ever starts.
Look, I know most adults have trouble with this one, but basic communication is key. Tell people if you’ll be late. If your customer needs information, tell her! With the exception of proprietary information, I’m a big believer in laying it all out there. Too much precious time, and too many resources are lost because of posturing. In fact, it’s the leading cause of most customer services issues.
Reputations take a long time to build, but they can be ruined in absolutely no time at all. Just look at Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos. She had the hottest startup in Silicon Valley – valued at over $9 billion. But it only took one article to point out how her entire company was built on a lie. Now she’s a pariah, and no one will ever trust her again. Sure, that may be an extreme example, but the basis is the same – if you cause even the tiniest amount of mistrust, you place your own reputation at risk.
Do What You Promise
Possibly the most frustrating thing you can do is not follow through on your promises. If you promise a deadline or a standard, meet it. Period. And don’t promise what you know you can’t reasonably achieve. You’re just as unprofessional if you overpromise as if you carelessly skip past your commitments.
Guess what, buddy? You aren’t the only person who deserves respect. In fact, everyone does. And the more respect you show, the more you get. Everyone has huge demands on their time, not just you. So consider that when you address your customers and don’t assume they should give you respect without earning it.
Your business is failing for one simple reason – you aren’t thinking beyond your own nose. Everyone wants to be treated like a human. Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. If an employee is incredibly rude while you’re shopping, are you likely to go back there? If a salesman shows up late to a meeting with you, are you more or less likely to buy from him? Start thinking of your customer as a human that wants to be treated accordingly, and just maybe you can pull yourself from the brink of disaster.