Attitudes Lead to Actions… Both Positive and Negative
This may sound like a simple question but “how do you really feel about your customers?” Do you respect them? Are you thankful for their patronage? Do you see them as people with feelings and problems? Or, do you consider them a necessary but often inconvenient or bothersome aspect of your business?
As an entrepreneur, you must cherish every one of your customers. If you don’t, neither will your employees. And if the loss of even a single customer isn’t viewed as a tragedy, than the loss of others won’t either… until you won’t have sufficient customers left to earn a profit.
Make sure your employees are trained to be respectful, courteous and concerned… and that’s just for starters. Teach them, train them and encourage them to develop new ways to be customer centric in all their dealings. And when they do, reward them for coming up with innovative ideas and then publish those ideas so others in your organization are encouraged to employ and improve upon them and come up with their own ideas.
Employees Are People Too and So Is Their Boss
You may be the world’s greatest boss but that doesn’t mean you come to work every day with a smile on your face, good cheer to spread around and words of appreciation for all your associates. The same is true for your employees. Everybody has bad days. When that happens, it may even be better for you and them, not to come to work.
Let your employees know you respect them so if they need a day off, let them take it without explanation or penalty. They’ll appreciate it, the atmosphere in the office will be kept at a higher level, customers will be better served and efficiency will improve. It’s also a pretty good idea to give yourself that same courtesy when you have a bad day.
Sometimes, Even When You Do All the Right Things, It Still Doesn’t Work Out Well… It’s What You Do Next That Really Counts
As a manager, do you have policies in place to handle “unpleasant situations?” What happens when employees don’t treat customers well? What happens if a manager does something immoral or if an employee does something illegal? Are you prepared to handle that? How? Are your company’s policies and procedures written and communicated to and clearly understood, along with penalties, by all your employees?
If not, the solution is not that hard to implement. Basically, no matter what unknown or unplanned for situation may arise, it’s happened to some other company and there is no shortage of professionals who’ve already solved those problems and written a manual about it.
Find a consulting company you’re comfortable with and put your policies in place as quickly as feasible.
Are Your Customers Satisfied? How Do You Know?
Well-run businesses are also well-tested businesses. Are your customer satisfaction scores high or low? Have you asked? Have you set goals? How are they compared to last year or last quarter? How are they compared to your main competitors? Do your employees know? Do they care? What are you doing to improve them and how much communication do you give your employees?
Perhaps you should evaluate how your customers reorder? How often? Are their orders increasing or decreasing? Do they promote your company to other accounts? Do they respond to customer surveys? Do they generally praise for your company or complain about it?
When was the last time you or your managers called your key customers just to say hi or to express your appreciation for the orders they placed? Maybe now is the time to implement a customer appreciation day but even more important, are your employees giving you suggestions to improve customer relations? Or haven’t you asked them either?
Identifying Potential Problems and Implementing Solutions to Avoid or Correct Them
Problems don’t have a self-correcting mechanism. Be proactive. While it’s important to Identify existing problems, it is equally important to identify potential problems and put a plan into place so if they should occur, your entire company can activate the plan immediately instead of going into panic mode that results in time lost, increased cost and the potential for the company’s reputation to be damaged beyond repair.
During a time of crises, people especially need to remain calm and work cohesively. The last thing a company needs is to have its employees, acting without leadership, making decisions or taking actions that are at odds with each other.
The best a company can do in such situations is to acknowledge the problem, take responsibility for it, put a plan into operation immediately and communicate to your employees, customers and suppliers. This may not eliminate any damage but it definitely will minimize it.