VOL. 126 | NO. 30 | Monday, February 14, 2011
Small Business Adviser
Breeding Confidence In Your Business
If you completed any business curriculum you surely heard the No. 1 reason a customer buys where he does is because he has the most trust and confidence in that business, its representatives or the brand it sells. Inspiring this confidence is done by the behavior of employees. The company that inspires confidence makes money.
There are numerous little things that raise the level or lower it. High on the list is appearance and, boy, have we gone backward. Men now struggle deciding if they should even wear a tie. The open collar, button down shirt, combined with a sport coat, looks poor on a business executive, salesperson or speaker. Casual Friday people want to wear golf shirts. Casualness decreases confidence by communicating “my ease is more important than anything.” This makes it about you and not the customer. The right appearance is that which shows the most respect to your public not you. Men should wear a tie. Boo Hoo. Women should wear a suit with matching pants or dress.
More confidence is gained in organizations that follow up quickly. Its people are accessible to accomplish this. If your voicemail says, “Sorry I missed your call I will call back shortly,” then you do. All field personnel are available by cell phone. Desk phones are forwarded to cell phones. Customer inquiries, of whatever type, are answered the same day. All requests for you to call back are done so, at least by an assistant. You never know who it might be.
Next up, you answer the phone! I was in another city and a Yellow Pages ad’s largest print said “We answer the phone.” Poignant truth, there.
Any company that still runs the “please listen carefully as our options have changed” recording, and proceeds with all those pressing numbers, should be required to go back to rotary phones, to use those pink “while you were out” message notes and put on voicemail probation. Confidence inspiring? Not!
More confidence, ironically, is gained when a company admits it messed up. If you have, that is what you say. Those that jing jong around a mistake lose customer confidence faster than Larry King in his latest wife. It is instinctively uncomfortable to admit you got behind on your competence but it will keep, if not increase, your credibility. Why? Because it is honest and nothing breeds more confidence than honesty.
The most confidence-inspiring factor is employees know what they are doing. Whatever they do, they are expert. They can give it because they have it. You know it when you hear it – people who know what they are talking about. The confidence is apparent and it transfers.
Everyone has seen the opposite. To make all your employees confident means you need a good training program.
Finally, nothing like a great leader (you), to inspire confidence from the top down. It begins there. Think of the great leaders in your field, whatever it may be. Be them.
Tom Pease is owner of e/Doc Systems, an office equipment dealership.