Friday, August 22, 2014

Your reputation

     Free daily tips, information and advice for small business
     from personal experience in business--been there, done that.

     Your reputation is everything in business. It spreads, good or bad.

     As they say, bad news travels all the way around the world while good news is just waking up. You don't want bad news.

     You build your reputation every day.

     Example: Steve runs a small rental business. He rents carpet cleaners, power washers, concrete mixers, even lawn mowers, power tools and other things needed by homeowners and contractors. When a homeowner called saying she couldn't get the carpet cleaner to work, Steve jumped in his truck and went to the home to solve the problem. He took along a replacement machine--just in case. When a landscaper brought back a lawnmower saying that the blade was not sharp, Steve replaced the blade with a new one and wiped out the rental charge.

     You can handle problems in different ways. Each customer complaint, however, should be handled quickly. Doing so protects your reputation by building customer confidence in you. This goes a long way toward assuring a good future relationship.

     Example: Elena runs a small health food store. She sells organic vegetables, packaged foods, sandwiches and wraps to go, vitamins and supplements, and more. When a customer returned a bunch of carrots saying they were woody, Elena refunded the cost and gave the customer a gift certificate in a small amount to be used on anything in the store. The customer used it right away, spending many times the value of the gift certificate.

     By going the extra mile, Elena helped the customer through a disappointing experience. The reputation of the store was protected.

     Example: Betsy operated a one woman public relations firm. She was a whirlwind of activity with clients. One called to complain that the news release Betsy had provided didn't get picked up by the local press. Betsy went into action. She called several contacts, got the news release published and turned the situation around--building customer confidence and preparing the way for future business.

     Carefully guard your reputation. Use every complaint as an opportunity. Show your customer that you care about their problems, that they can depend on you, and that you always follow through. 

     Your customers expect you to stand behind your goods and services. But no matter how alert you might be, mistakes happen and difficult situations arise. These are opportunities to show your stuff, gaining the confidence of your customer and assuring a continuing relationship--including referrals. 

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