The relationship between a small business and its customers can be very complex at times. And although it’s not as intense as the relationships that we have with our loved ones, similar risks can be involved. The relationship between your business and your customers can be blemished by things like dishonesty, broken promises, and betrayals – real or perceived. These types of negative situations can have an adverse affect on your business, through decreases in sales, missed opportunities, and sometimes even litigation.
Of course, negative experiences don’t happen with every business relationship. Plenty of small businesses have been able to maintain healthy and profitable relationships with their customers for many, many years.
What can you do to steer clear of making mistakes that can be detrimental to your business relationships? Below are 7 mistakes that can completely destroy your business – and how to avoid them.
1. Lack of Reliability or Predictability
Regardless of the products or services you offer, your customers will depend on you to provide them with a level of predictability and reliability. Inconsistency or lack of reliability can lead to decreased sales numbers, and even previously loyal customers can jump ship.
2. Poor Communication
The key to staying connected with your customers is to maintain open communication at all times. When a situation arises that can cause an interruption in services, a decrease in quality, or cause you to extend your deadlines, don’t refrain from communicating your concerns with your customers out of fear of losing them to a competitor. Withholding this type of information can lead to the very thing you’re trying so hard to avoid.
3. Not Choosing Your Words Wisely
It’s imperative that your marketing materials and website copy clearly outline exactly what it is you’re able to offer your customers. Exaggerating your products or services can not only lead to unhappy customers, but can even lead to charges of false advertising.
4. Failing to Own Up to Your Mistakes
If you slip up, regardless of the size of your mistake, always make sure you acknowledge the mistake and do whatever it takes to fix it. Your customers aren’t stupid, and they’ll certainly notice your mistakes eventually, regardless of whether you take responsibility for them or not. And if you take responsibility before they notice, your honesty and maturity will be respected – and rewarded with continued business.
5. Being Too Secretive
Your customers will naturally want to protect their own privacy, but not divulging enough information about yourself and your business can make them leery to do business with you. If they have to hunt around for who is behind your company, where you’re located, etc., they’ll wonder what you have to hide. By placing basic business information in plain sight on your website and marketing materials, you show prospective customers that your business is legit.
6. Inflating Your Business Size
Passing your business off as something bigger than it really is can be a huge mistake. Often times, customers prefer to do business with smaller businesses. Small businesses are often more organized and more attentive to their customers’ needs. More importantly, you risk being seen as dishonest if you pretend to be big and your customers find out you’re really a small business.
7. Failing to Turn Down the Wrong Work
As a small business owner, it can be incredibly difficult to turn any opportunities down. A common mistake that a lot of owners of small businesses make is taking on more customers or projects than they can realistically handle. Know what your limitations are, and try not to exceed them. Additionally, don’t be afraid to turn away projects that don’t fit into your company’s vision and mission. The money might be good in the short term, but the decision to deviate from the main focus of your business can spell disaster.
Being aware of and avoiding these common mistakes that many small business owners make can mean the difference between ultimate success and excessive struggle – or even failure.