Your company image is important to your future growth and success. Even if your company is relatively small, you should always present it as if it were a world-class company.
How you interact with your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders is a reflection of your business and its level of professionalism. Have you considered what you’re saying about your company?
If you have a physical location, it’s important it conveys the image that you want your brand to represent. It should reflect your customers’ expectations. What does that pile of unopened stock in the main area say? How about the stack of unfiled papers behind your desk?
You may be unintentionally sending the wrong message. Look at your business through the eyes of your customers. Whether they are trendy or reserved, you should have an orderly and welcoming atmosphere.
It’s not only your physical identity that you have to be concerned with. Have you ever considered what you could be inadvertently saying through poor communication practices? Have you ever replied to an email without actually fully reading it?
If yes, you most likely just asked questions that were already answered, or provided the wrong information. Whoops! And, now the reader has made a judgment about the type of businessperson you are.
It’s not just poor grammar and spelling mistakes that could make you appear unprofessional to a customer. The use of colored fonts, social shorthand, multiple exclamation points, smiley faces, etc. could result in a cringeworthy reaction from the reader.
A company can be fun, but still maintain a professional image. Every company has a different voice, and differing levels of formality; consider what works, and more importantly what doesn’t work for you.
Your online image is more important than ever. With interactive websites and social media, your company is likely to be competing on a global level, even if you don’t think so. Have you moved recently? Changed your telephone number or email address? Is your contact information current?
If you answered no, what are you saying to the customer parked outside your old shop, or to the large corporate client who just tried calling your old number? Make sure you have correct and up-to-date information across all your online sites. If you don’t, it’s almost guaranteed that your competitor does and they will end up with the sale.
Have you ever complained about a poor supplier, an irrational customer, or an angry follower on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? Don’t. Think about what that may be saying about you as a business owner and whether you, as a customer, would want to do business with that person.
Deal with problems or complaints in a professional manner. Take the time to consider the message. Once posted to the Internet, it is extremely hard to take back, even if you delete it. Responding in a professional and respectful manner can provide you with an unexpected opportunity to prove your reliability and reinforce your branding.
You and your company
One final thought: as a business owner, your company’s image and your personal image are connected. Most small business owners are the face of their business, so it’s important to maintain a positive personal image as well. Your actions affect your company, whether it’s an everyday interaction or through your personal social media sites. As with your company, make sure that you are portraying the right message to your customers.