The idea of professionalism is one that any business of any size should really be trying to live up to. For all that the relationship between business and customer base has changed over the years, it is a transactional one. We may be a lot less formal in our conversations than we once were, but when it comes right down to it, a company that wants to be taken seriously and to develop to a high point of achievement should be seen to be professional.
Why is this? In short, it’s got a lot to do with what we expect from businesses ourselves. If you ask a friend to bake you a cake, you’ll accept a few flaws: a dented box, some uneven frosting, perhaps a misspelling or two in the message. If you pay a bakery to do it, the same flaws aren’t as excusable. And this underlines the importance of professionalism, and why it is something that your company should be looking to achieve from day one.
Don’t over-promise or under-deliver
Even a small business needs to have some standards it works to live up to, and which it won’t tolerate falling below. If you’re operating out of your garage, it’s natural that you might not be able to match Amazon when it comes to next- or same-day delivery. That’s fine, as long as you don’t promise to match them. Have levels of service that you know you can meet, communicate them clearly, and then live up to them. And if you fall short, as everyone does sometimes, then apologize, compensate and get back to maintaining those customer service standards.
Some modern-day companies – even some of the bigger names – have a pretty poor record when it comes to communicating with customers. It’s natural that smaller businesses, and especially sole traders, might be busy when people try to contact them. So it is essential to have a way they can communicate in your absence. Organizing a telephone answering service, and looking to add a chatbot to your website, are two key steps you could be making. When possible, always communicate with customers yourself. It will increase their confidence in your business.
Focus on your website
It used to be the case that every business needed its own premises in order to be considered in any way credible. In the present day, with high commercial rents and other restrictions, it makes sense that people want to run a business from home – and it’s possible for them to do it, so why not? What this does mean is that websites have become the storefronts of the modern age. So while you don’t need a palatial office to impress customers, you do need to have a high-quality website with up-to-date information and easily accessed contact details. It’s more than worth what you’ll pay for it.