This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

The details make all the difference, whether you’re talking about fine art or the fine art of branding a small business.

When you’re trying to grow your small business, the impression that you’re making matters — and it speaks volumes more about your company than you could say in words alone. The good news is that you’re not fighting an uphill battle, in fact a 2012 study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that 88 percent of the people surveyed already had a favorable view of small businesses, with 52 percent believing that small business owners have high ethical standards. A full 68 percent admitted they’d rather do business with a small company and pay a higher price for the privilege.

The public is already ready and waiting for your small business to succeed, but without taking a long look at the details, you could still alienate customers and destroy relationships on accident. Don’t wait another day to evaluate your company’s branding and the impression that your actions are making on the world around you.

Important Pain Points to Consider

No matter how tight your ship is or how well you think you’re managing your company, there’s something that can be improved to make your brand shine a little brighter.

Maybe you’re slacking in the packaging department or you don’t have the greatest organizational system for your shelf space. It happens, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you have to make an effort right away to correct these pain points so customers don’t immediately flee to the competition.

Ask yourself these questions to help identify common problems:

Are callers often shuffled to voicemail? A NewVoiceMedia study on what motivates customers to switch brands found something surprising: your customers don’t want to leave voicemail. In fact, 53 percent are put off by not being able to speak to a person right away. Customers want to know they’ve been heard, even if it’s by an answering service. Leaving a message with a machine simply isn’t enough in today’s instant gratification world.

Does my customer service team pride itself on its product knowledge? Whether on the phone or in your shop, your sales team should know your products inside and out. Customers appreciate knowledgeable staffers who treat them with respect. After all, it’s simple to use a Smartphone to find the same product elsewhere if the customer service team is pulling out high pressure sales tactics or doesn’t know its products.

Am I taking the effort to present a consistent brand image to the public? A consistent brand image can be difficult to establish in the early life of a business, but it’s a necessary thread to keep the whole marketing package from unraveling. If your social media shows your company in one light and your local marketing shows you in another, it can be very confusing for customers.

Once you know where your pain points are, you can work to fix the image your company is showing to the public. A better image spells even better customer retention and a bigger bottom line. In part two of this two-part series, we’ll discuss ideas for streamlining your business even further.