These days many businesses are judged by their websites and their social media. But what about those organisations that offer face-to-face services, retail or offices?
We can get distracted by the day-to-day needs of our business and sometimes the housekeeping and image are not at the top of the priority list. Yet it just takes one silly comment on social media, an unthinking customer interaction, a slapdash approach … to damage your business reputation for a very long time.
How ready are you and your team for the scrutiny and automatic evaluation by new recruits, customers, suppliers, associates and even possible buyers of your business?
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Looking through a customer’s eyes
To evaluate how your clients/customers perceive your business right now, you can start by considering the key points of engagement. List them e.g. website, emails, signage, ads, building, phone contacts, service delivery, products, responsiveness and follow-up, product knowledge, helpfulness, clothing, networking events…
What do your people convey? Are they contentedly busy, or are they frazzled and snappy? Does equipment work well and is IT and equipment that is up-to-date and operating smoothly? Is coffee, tea or water offered in nice glasses or crockery, or is it a stained mug with someone’s name on it and instant coffee, or plastic utensils? Is there a messy OLD magazine stack? Or wonderful items that people love to check out?
Do you have savvy people on the phone or front of house who demonstrate admirable EQ? (If not, why not?) Are staff responsive, enthusiastic, and show attention to detail? Are your business communiques (whether in person, via social media or in writing) crisp, timely and considered?
See it from recruit’s eyes
What does a new recruit see when they walk into your business?
Most of us are too busy focusing on how we see the job applicants. Many employers and managers give little thought to the image that is portrayed to the stranger coming for a job interview.
Any prospective employee has their antennas up, noticing everything around them – the look, the feel, the communication with any staff, the eye contact and body language, the front reception atmosphere, the friendliness, the tidiness, the amount of light and noise, the comfort, the quality of the coffee or the glass for their water, if it is offered… even the bathrooms if they use them.
A great business atmosphere feels tantalising. You can imagine yourself working there. You walk in, look around, and will fairly quickly form an impression.
Much of this is conscious, but your sub-conscious is also checking things out and may not always concur with the so-called rational mind. Unless you urgently need somewhere (anywhere) to work, you’ll want to be sure the place ticks most of your boxes.
Welcoming atmosphere, stimulating conditions and prospects, good people, ‘green’ values… makes a place attractive. People, irrespective of their generation, will hang around in such a place and not depart too soon. If they don’t, this is where you need to get things right.
What does the unsuccessful recruit go away and tell others about your business?
See it from investor’s eyes
An investor’s eyes should be your eyes. You want to see the business working smoothly, looking smart and capable of withstanding forensic probing. Staff should be able to answer questions and handle deliverables fully, promptly and accurately. Customers are a priority, costs are kept reasonable, quality is ensured while financial growth is steady.
If you want to create a winning impression for your business it requires:
- A vision for how the business needs to be
- Alignment by all managers and staff for that vision
- A checklist of all engagement points and standards for each
- An agreed list of desired behaviours and the NOT acceptable behaviours
- An agreed priority list of actions, dates and deliverables to achieve those
- A big focus on training for all staff so everyone talks up the business and projects the image you want in that vision
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.