As a business owner your integrity is everything. Your brand and reputation are being built on the back of your last customer interaction. When your customers know, like, and trust you, they’re more likely to continue doing business with you.
When you run a business with integrity, it’s easy to develop the kind of customer base that keeps coming back. Here are five strategies for making sure that you run your business with integrity.
This may seem like a pretty basic concept but is amazing how many companies and people do not do this. Salespeople are especially famous for exaggerations and blatant lies to close deals. People also tend to lie to cover their butts when things go wrong. The best strategy is to be like George Washington and never tell a lie. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Mistakes are hard to admit, it’s always better to admit you messed up, and then offer solutions to fix it.
There’s something to be said for finishing the task at hand. Just because we can be reached through email, texting, or phone, doesn’t mean we need to drop what we’re doing that second. You may need to finish what you’re doing, but it’s still a good idea not to keep customers waiting too long.
Return your messages promptly. This is important whether we’re talking about long-time clients or prospects. It’s also important to return all of your messages, no matter who they are from. It is very easy to build a bad reputation when you don’t return messages.
If you’ve told a client that you’ll have a project completed by Monday, do it by Monday. Your high school English teacher never accepted late work, neither will your clients. When your clients view you as unreliable, it’s a good way to lose business.
This is especially challenging when you promise to do something that becomes difficult at a later point. Maybe you gave someone a price that was inaccurate. Or maybe you committed to get something done by a certain date, and you realize you can’t do it. The best solution is to always honor your promises no matter what. If for some reason you can’t honor it, then contact the person before you drop the ball, and let them know what changed, and what you plan to do to make up for it.
Your company is only as strong as your word. UNDER-promising and OVER-delivering is always better.
In a nutshell, integrity is what you do when no one’s looking. In business, there are always opportunities to get away with things that work to your advantage when someone is not paying attention. For instance, maybe someone accidentally double paid an invoice. Or maybe you forgot to deliver something you promised, and they didn’t notice. No matter what the situation, do what you know in your heart to be the right thing, always.
The thing about operating this way at all times is that you may think no one is looking, but things still get noticed. Not only is operating with integrity the right thing to do, but people will notice that you’re the kind of person who always does the right thing. Your employees will notice. Your customers will notice. Your family will notice. They may not notice a single individual act, but over time, when you continually do the right thing, it gets recognized. Being a person who is respected for their integrity goes a long way in a lot of areas.
With the Internet, there’s no shortage of competition – yet your customer chose you. Never vary your level of service based on how much you think that customer is worth to you, after the deal is made. In other words, let’s say a person orders a small $50 order from you, and you realize that’s probably all they’re ever going to order from you. Maybe you’re running a bit late on their order, because you decided to put another larger customer’s order in front of them. Bend over backwards to still make that $50 customer happy no matter what.
You never know who that $50 customer knows. Yes that $50 customer may never be worth much to you, but if you treat them right, they could refer you to a huge customer.