Like everyone, I prefer to do business with companies that emit good vibrations. Such as companies that resonate with my own closely held values and principles, or where the employees are pleasant and efficient and have a recognizable stake in the success of the business. I certainly prefer businesses where employees don’t change from one visit to the next. According to experts, a 15-20 percent annual employee turnover rate is an indication that something in the ranks is amiss.
But I’m not so much referring to customer service here as I am to the external and internal culture of a business -- how it appears to the outside world and what the experience will be for customers or clients, including the selection of magazines in the waiting room, TVs on the wall or the front -line staff.
A strong and positive company culture speaks volumes about your business because customers invariably prefer continuity, efficiency and a seat at the dinner table. If we receive that treatment in our early experiences with the business, we’ll be apt to spend more money, to return again and to recommend it to our friends and family. Without creating a strong company culture to sustain business, things can sink fast and the folks in charge may never know what hit them.
With so much business now being conducted online, how does a small- business owner create the positive culture his company needs to draw customers via a computer, tablet or smartphone?
First, understand that marketing online should be a dedicated, nearly full-time job for a social media manager or someone similar. It’s too important to relegate to a teen volunteer or a website programmer. Your social media manager should be an extraordinary communicator with access to the internal workings of your business, with strong writing skills and an innate curiosity that will push them to keep up with vast changes that occur in the online universe.
Here are some tips that will help your customers get acquainted with the culture at your business online:
On the company website. Deliver top-notch customer service by being accessible and responsive. Design a clean-looking site that allows visitors to contact someone in the company immediately from the home page. Offer a frequently asked questions section that can be easily accessed. Be sure visitors can subscribe to your blog or like your Facebook page quickly and easily. Offer brief and interesting profiles and photos of the main players in your company.
On social platforms. Because Facebook is a social medium, don’t hesitate to post a photo of the boss’s 40th birthday party alongside your posts about specials or sales. Get your company involved in charitable causes and ask for assistance from your online visitors. Be 100 percent transparent in your dealings with customers on social sites and admit any mistakes.
On company blogs. Write two or three paragraph posts that impart important information that the reader can actually use. Stray from your standard sales messages and get real and colloquial with your communication.
Be consistent with your postings, relentless in scheduling them and use lots of photos and other visuals, like infographs.
Paige Henson is a new media consultant for small businesses. She specializes in inbound marketing and content management. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.