Thanks in part to social media, today’s customers expect much more transparency from businesses – including small ones. And greater transparency means that businesses and the people who run them must be more accountable than ever before. Being accountable makes you and your business credible – and that’s a valuable asset you want to both create, and protect.
Many things can damage credibility – over-promising, customer-service slipups, poor communication and wrong information are just a few. Lack of credibility hurts your bottom line, leads to low productivity and can alienate employees, vendors and customers.
The good news is that if you pay attention, you can pre-empt credibility issues before they grow into major breakdowns in your business.
Here are seven types of damaging behavior to be on the lookout for:
Cavalier promises: We’ve all dealt with people or businesses that simply don’t keep their promises: “I’ll get back to you tomorrow on that.” “Your order will be delivered by Monday.” “Sure, we can handle that kind of volume.” Making promises is easy, but following through is the hard part. Businesses that master the follow-through part gain credibility. Don’t make a promise unless you can keep it.
Empty slogans: Countless small businesses claim they’ll go the extra mile for customers, and will put client interests above their own. Far fewer actually do that. Don’t be a business that spouts platitudes but leaves customers unsatisfied. Keep in mind that your business in accountable to customers and it is important that you and your employees take that obligation seriously, and personally.
Thunder theft: Do you have people in your business who draft off the work of others – and then take credit for it? This kind of behavior costs them credibility, and also can cost your business credibility as clients and customers see through employees who try to take credit for things they weren’t responsible for producing. Businesses that are generous in handing out kudos to those responsible for good work earn the respect of clients and customers.
Expense account cheaters: While this is usually considered an internal issue, it has broader implications for the business as well. Any lack of financial accountability needs to be stopped. Employees who don’t have a problem lying about their expenses are just as likely to lie about other things, and to clients, and that can be even more costly to your business.
Chronic lateness: Latecomers mess up meetings, sabotage deadlines, upset customers and suppliers and give your business a bad name. You won’t always see the impact right away. But it becomes all too clear when customers start calling you unreliable and take their business elsewhere.
Mistake erasing: Every person and every business makes mistakes. So pretending to be perfect isn’t likely to hold water. Some people get very good at covering up mistakes with ever-more creative excuses. But a lack of accountability can hurt your bottom line. Far better to own up to mistakes and spend your time and energy on making things right and making sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.
Blame deflection: Unlike mistake erasing which denies that anything happened, blame deflecting acknowledges a problem but seeks to place the blame elsewhere. It’s always someone else’s fault. Customers have little patience for being told they are the ones to blame when something goes wrong. Set aside the blame game and focus on the fix.
By being aware of the attitudes and actions that damage business credibility, you can take steps to avoid them. And this in turn will help you save money and keep your customers coming back.
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