The other day I was conducting a training session about how businesses can better communicate value to improve customer loyalty. Most in the audience were open-minded and busily jotting down ways they could implement some of the strategies I was sharing.
There were, as always, a few in the crowd who didn’t want to listen. They didn’t want to do anything differently from what they were already doing to help their customers appreciate their value. They felt it was up to their customersto change their attitudes and expectations. Their comments got me thinking – what were their opinions saying about themas business owners?
The thing is, what we say and how we behave in any situation says an enormous amount about ourselves and our approach in business.
Sometimes we think it’s okay to switch off when there aren’t any potential customers around or when we’re in social situations. The problem with thinking this way is that we could be damaging our brand without even knowing it.
Make no mistake – your customers and clients are everywhere. Every single individual you meet is a potential customer, or a connector to a potential customer. Those business owners in the room who didn’t want to change were explaining that they didn’t think excellent customer service was important. I would go so far as to say that they felt that their needs were more important than their customers’ needs.
Do you think anyone would buy from such a business owner if there were ever a need for his or her products or services, in the absence of a monopoly? Or do you think they would even think about referring such a business to family and friends? Most certainly not.
People want to work with businesses that are passionate about their products and services – but who also show that they care about their customers. No one wants to work with someone who complains about their business and their customers all the time. What impression are you creating in your networks?
Own your brand
Many people talk about keeping work and life separate. Sure, I can see how it’s important to have work/life balance, and how it’s wise to not bring work stress into your relationships outside of work. But I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can separate our lives completely from our work, as if we have two separate personas.
Most of us spend the bulk of our time asleep or at work. Think about that – that’s a major chunk of your lifetime. As we grow older, more and more of our friends are also our colleagues or people we used to work with. Plus, work is a major source of achievement. There’s a palpable sense of personal satisfaction and pride that comes with knowing that you did your job well, in the same way that graduating from school or university did and raising a family does.
Our careers are an inseparable part of our lives, so why are we trying so hard to pretend it’s not? When we try to annex work from the rest of our lives, we can expect these results:
- We start living for the weekends and holidays;
- Work becomes a means to an end, and we lose sight of the journey; and
- Our customers know when our passion for our business/work drops.
The alternative is that you wholeheartedly own your brand and our businesses. Accept that it’s a big part of your life – and be grateful that, if performed well, it allows you to live the way we do.
That way, when your friends and family ask you about your business, you can talk passionately about what you’ve got going on. If you demonstrate passion, pride and excitement when you explain to people what you do for a living, it’ll rub off on them and they’ll most certainly be more interested in what you’ve got going on. So start spreading the message that you’re proud to be doing what you do and your customers will be taken care of as a result.
Jenny Tse is a small business owner and business consultant who has worked with major players such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Macquarie Bank.