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What Impression Is Your Small Business Really Making? (Part 2 of 2)

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

In part one, we discussed some common mistakes businesses make but we didn’t talk about how to fix those issues.

That’s what part two is all about –it’s time to correct the problems with the impression your business is making. Your goal should always be to provide excellent customer service and a consistent image, these two small things are everything when it comes to the way the public views your services. These are some easy ways to tighten up your brand and better engage your customers:

Identify your target market. Too many small businesses get started with the grand idea that their product or service will literally appeal to everyone, everywhere. This is a common, but serious mistake. Instead of assuming you’re going to be the end all, be all, figure out who will really love your product or service and who you want to work with. Tightening your audience is just one way of better cementing your brand image, since you can then choose images and marketing that appeals to just that audience you’ve identified.

Define your brand’s core values. Along with knowing your audience, you have to know your business. It’s not enough to throw up a location or eCommerce shop, you must understand what it is that your brand brings to the table. Core values are a great way to help unite your social media, content marketing and print marketing efforts and provide consistency for your customers. Core values like environmental responsibility, community betterment or even something more simple like honesty and transparency are the first step to giving your company a real brand image.

Provide a human touch. It can’t be stressed enough how important the human touch is. Without having someone manning the phones 24/7, your customers may get the impression that you’re not really there for their convenience. Some businesses may be able to get away without a live operator for a while, but even these industries will be pulled into today’s on demand culture eventually. Having a full-time operator on staff or hiring an answering service gives your customers someone to talk to when they’re trying to make important decisions about what to buy and who to buy it from.

Make returns easy. Even if you have the best sales staff in the world, there will eventually be someone who complains about your service or takes home a dysfunctional product. It’s the odds of the game. According to UPS’s 2015 Pulse of the Online Shopper, 2014 returns totaled about nine percent of the value of sales across all retail channels, equaling a whopping $284 billion. Of those returns, UPS found that only 65 percent of customers were satisfied with their in-store experience and 62 percent with their online returns. There’s a huge opportunity here for improvement for almost every business. Customers told UPS that easy, hassle-free returns are what make them happy.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re running a small business — there’s so much to do and only a limited amount of time to do it. But they key to success is having a great public image, and that comes from providing excellent customer service over the telephone, online and in your store.

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