Image Is Everything! [NASE Experts]

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Image Is Everything! [NASE Experts]

Oct 11, 2012

The first time customers buy goods or services from a business it’s usually because of reputation, product value, or marketing. But once you get them in the door the challenge is to keep them coming back!

It doesn’t do any good to spend marketing dollars to create an image that says, “buy from me” if you’re going to lose the customer with a bad impression from poorly handled telephone calls, an unkempt appearance, or the lax attitude of an employee. One of the most important marketing tools a business has is the image generated in the minds of customers.

Images like whether you promptly got to speak with a live person or had to whack your way through a voice mail jungle. What about the appearance of a business? Was is clean, neat, and organized or was everything in disarray? What about personal appearance or the appearance of business vehicles? Would you feel comfortable listing your $300,000 house with a real estate agent that drives a 15 year old vehicle that you’re not sure could get prospects to your house without breaking down? Overall, does your business present a professional an image of confidence and trust?

Creating a positive impression often comes down to taking care of the little things. Sure you have to have a good product and service but you also have to impress your customers to keep them coming back.

Here are a few suggestions to help make a pristine impression on your customers:

  • Have a unique business name (John Smith and Associates won't excite clients). 
  • Have business cards and letterhead professionally designed and printed.
  • Have a good phone system and procedure.
  • Establish high energy procedures for handling all customers.
  • Make sure that a day never passes that customer messages go unreturned.
  • Never promise just to get business. Always “under promise and over perform”. 

Image also means keeping customers coming back by having a strong customer satisfaction program.

  • Develop a customer satisfaction program: A pleasant voice on the telephone, which never rings more than twice before someone answers; immediate recognition of customers when they walk into your business; letting customers know you appreciate their business by sending thank-you letters.
  • Track customer satisfaction: Most customers don't have a problem when something doesn't go exactly right or when they get a product that does not meet all their expectations. The real problems come when the situation is not properly handled. Anytime a customer shows a concern, don't wait for it to become a major problem. The more quickly you respond to a customer's need, the easier it will be to resolve.
  • Communicate your customer satisfaction commitment: Meet with employees and talk customer satisfaction. Get employees involved. After all, they will be the ones on the front line and their commitment is important.
  • Track customer satisfaction: Ask customers how you are doing. Do customers like products and services? Did they have any negative experiences?
  • Let customers know you appreciate them: Send thank you notes, have an appreciation house-warming at your business, or just pick up the phone and call to say thank you.

A good customer satisfaction program doesn't take a lot of planning or administration. Common sense should guide you to set up a program in which you treat customers the same way you would like to be treated. Make sure everyone, including you, puts customer satisfaction at the top of any action list. And last but not least, don't put up with bad service. Regardless of how valuable you may consider someone who represents your business, if they don't provide customer satisfaction, they are chasing business away.
The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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