Running a business of any kind presents its own unique challenges and pitfalls, but if you run a general public-facing company, you certainly have to deal with a lot of circumstances that, say, online startups can avoid. Your business centres around making sure that each and every person that walks through your door has a first class experience that they are likely to talk about with friends, colleagues, acquaintances and other general people they come into contact with.
A huge number of businesses that deal with the general public are focused very much in the hospitality sector. If you are planning to start up a business of this kind, it makes sense that you have experience in this field. Being able to deal with all kinds of different people is a prerequisite, and you also need to be adaptable and make sure your company keeps up with current trends. So, let’s take a look at just a few key rules for running a business that deals with customers, and specifically the general public.
First Impressions Count
It is an old adage that you have probably heard a million times before, but first impressions really do make all the difference when you are running a business that deals with customers. For example, if you own a bar, you want to set the tone from the moment that people walk inside. Obviously, the decor and individual style play their part, but you should also make sure that you and your team have a standardised way of dealing with everyone who pays a visit. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were going to a similar establishment. What can you do to stand out from the competition? Building up a relationship with your clients is a sometimes tricky, but ultimately rewarding endeavour. Customer-facing companies are all about generating repeat business so this is exactly what you should be aiming to achieve.
Don’t Forget to Listen
Sometimes, one of the easiest, but most effective techniques that you can employ is simply to listen to your clients. When it comes to hospitality businesses in particular, a lot of the time, people can get the same type of goods or service elsewhere, but they come to you as it helps them to feel validated. As well as listening to your customers on a day-to-day basis, you can also look at the bigger picture and take their ideas into account when it comes to new innovations and policies in your business. People like to feel like they are having an input, so simply showing your customers that their opinions matter to you can really make all the difference.
Never Stop Innovating
While good, old-fashioned customer service is what many people are looking for in businesses, there is no reason that you shouldn’t always be innovating to enhance the experience of your clients. Automation is currently a hotly debated topic, and while there is an argument that it takes away from the ‘human’ experience that many people enjoy, streamlining certain aspects of your company not only makes good business sense, but it also serves to improve your clients’ overall experience. If you run a hotel business, products like Hotello software can play a big role in streamlining processes. As well as wanting a good, personalised level of service, many customers are leading increasingly busy lives and want things to be as efficient as possible. People are also more tech-savvy than ever before, so they are expecting companies to keep up with the latest innovations and offer them solutions that make their lives easier.
Go Above and Beyond
We have already touched upon this point briefly, but customers are increasingly looking for businesses that go above and beyond the ordinary. With so many companies out there these days all clamouring for attention, customers can find themselves being pulled in a number of different directions all at once. You need to find a way that you can go above and beyond the usual and keep them coming back time and time again. It may be through a particular loyalty scheme that you set up or a situation when you give the customer the benefit of the doubt rather than overruling them. Whatever the case, going above and beyond really can make all the difference.
Handle Complaints the Right Way
When you run any kind of customer-facing company, complaints are something that are simply unavoidable (as much as you may try). While you can attempt to give the best level of customer service in the world to reduce the number that you receive, sometimes you will have to deal with people who simply are not happy. What you can control is making sure that you handle complaints in the best way possible. Many times the complaint arises from a simple bit of miscommunication, which is why it is important that you accept any misunderstandings which have arisen from your side. Accepting accountability tends to help to calm down irate customers as they no longer have something that they feel the need to fight about. Obviously, you should make sure that the complaints are reasonable and see if there is anything you can do to adapt your business practices to improve things in the future.
Train Staff with Consistency
All businesses need to have clear training programmes in place to make sure that staff members fit the needs and requirements of the company. When people go to your business, they will start to expect a certain level of service. If there is a member of the team who is not meeting these standards, you first need to make sure that the training that they have been given is adequate before determining whether further instruction is needed. Representatives of the business who are on the frontline need to be fully aware that they way in which they treat customers can have huge implications on your business as a whole. Try to make things as clear as possible to reduce any risk of misunderstandings.