A lie often feels better than the truth. That is particularly true when you run your own small-business and things aren't going right. It's just so much easier to make something up than to admit that you made a mistake. Big corporations have big names to hide behind. When they lie to the world about their great service and wonderful products, people will still buy from them because they know the brand. It's almost as if we think to ourselves, "they are too big to let me down".
Oftentimes, big companies will project the image of being able to handle a lot more than they really can. They don't really care what you think of them because, most times, you can't live without them. So you buy their products.
Small businesses have no such luxury. People aren't going to buy from us because of our size. They buy from us because we offer something unique. Sometimes that's price, sometimes that's service, sometimes it's just knowing that you can speak to somebody in charge when something goes wrong.
Your clients want to know that they can rely on you. It's the same reason that they buy from big brands. The difference is that you need to give them different reasons to feel that same trust. Start being honest with your clients. Tell them the full story every time.
Let them know what went wrong and then let them know exactly how you're going to fix it. Don't get too technical because they won't understand but be honest with them. Being honest will leave you with clients that are loyal to you, understanding of your problems and happy to refer you to their family and friends. Why? Because they trust you! Large companies will never have that trust. Sure, particular staff members will have those sort of relationships with clients but the business, as a whole, will never be known for it -- like yours will! Being straightforward and honest with your clients will help you build stronger relationships with them. Any salesperson will tell you that a good relationship sounds like money in the (piggy) bank! Corporate-types often find themselves spending massive amounts of money buying ridiculous corporate gifts, going on silly golf days and buying expensive dinners all in the hope that their clients will like them more.
You don't have to! Just be honest and genuine and your clients will be eating right out of your hands. Take the initiative and be proactive in letting your clients know what's going on. For example, if you're experiencing a major boom in business and having difficulty coping with the load -- send out an e-mail to each and every client letting them know what's going on and what you're doing to fix the problem. Imagine for a moment that you've just commissioned a company to design your web site. They've promised to have it up for you by the end of the week and now it's Saturday.
Which would you prefer?. To have an honest e-mail or telephone call from the CEO to let you know that one of his employees is sick and he's finding someone to take over the project, or to be ignored all weekend and only hear from them again when your site is ready? Most small businesses end up doing the latter. Remember that your clients are just like you and they need to know what's going on! I've found that this approach has resulted in my company having more happy clients and less unreasonable ones. It's true -- some clients will leave you, but those are the clients that were draining your company's resources anyway! The rules are different for small businesses. Start playing by them and you'll quickly see better results.
Norio De Sousa offers free marketing tips at Marketing-Course.co.za.