Online business success is pretty simple if you break it down. The bottom line? Create the ultimate win/win situation for each and every client. That is, without question, the number one place that most businesses fail.
The Right Business Mentality Crosses Every Industry
Before launching my own successful online business, I had the privilege of working for several companies that molded the way I think about my clients. Thankfully, the business owners I learned from were in completely different industries from my own and from each other, which further proved to me that the right business plan will always promote success. Of course, if you are pushing a sub-par product or service, that’s a different story. But let’s assume you are not and break down the formula:
Exceptional Customer Service…or, You Want Pizza With That?
During my days as a jewelry sales professional, I learned that exceptional customer service is key. My manager, who was 100% Italian and sounded like he stepped directly off of a Martin Scorsese set, repeatedly taught me to think outside the box and to basically provide whatever it was that the client was looking for. To him, a client going to the competition was definitely NOT an option.
Now, while it is true that trying to spread yourself too thin by offering too many services can become a problem, many businesses don’t recognize areas where they could benefit from a bit of expansion. My manager (the Italian) explained it to me like this, “They want it delivered? No, actually we don’t deliver our merchandise, but if that’s what it takes, we will deliver it. They want a pizza too? We’ll pick one up on the way there. How’s that for customer service?”
Keeping that in mind, always be open to providing more and better customer service to your clients. I provide SEO web content. Generally, I write the content and provide it to my clients in the form of a Word document via email. I’m not going to lose business by sticking to that though. Recently, I had a client who asked if I would go ahead and submit my articles to their article marketing account for them. Of course, my answer was, yes. Another client requested that I upload all the content into their blogs each week, so they won’t have to think about it or deal with it…Another yes. Get the picture?
Think outside the box…Expand your services. This in itself will set you miles above the competition. Each new client request should not be viewed as a “bother,” but as an opportunity to further solidify your relationship with them.
Strive for Excellence, Especially When it’s Unexpected
I used to work for a huge and highly successful mega-church. The senior pastor talked about excellence and integrity every single day…Every…Single…Day.
He hired his staff to do things that anyone would consider highly unnecessary. Things like measuring the distance between each row of chairs in the sanctuary with a special pole he had designed, or having three different sets of eyes proofing and signing off on the words that would appear on the screen during worship to make sure nothing was misspelled or worded incorrectly. A bit OCD? Possibly…but highly useful for me today.
What did I learn from this? Well, first of all I started to notice how many times I hear people say, “I hope this is good enough,” or “I hope this will fly.” Instead of “Is this good enough,” Pastor Tim taught me to think, “What else can I do?…How can we make this better?” Don’t strive for “good enough.” That bar is hanging pretty low these days.
Recently, a client that has been providing me with quite a bit of work asked me to post a few articles directly into his business blog. While I was already in his main panel I decided to surprise him by uploading a header that would match his main website and tweak the background color as well. This took me all of ten minutes. After doing so, I sent him an email that said, “Just made some improvements to your blog. No charge. Have an exceptional day.” A few hours later he responded with more work for me along with a huge thank you. Do you think this client will look elsewhere for his SEO content writing? Highly doubtful. When you create winning situations for your clients, you never have to worry about losing them to your competition. It just won’t happen. (And even if it does, you’ll have 5 more clients knocking down your door…so don’t worry.)
Those are just two examples of what I’ve learned from some of the great business leaders I’ve worked for. There are hundreds of more scenarios you can think of for yourself; little ways to improve, offer more, and operate on a level of excellence that is rarely seen these days. Build your online business on the foundation of service and integrity and you won’t have to go looking for clients. They’ll come looking for you.
What If You Blow It?
Ah…the golden question. You didn’t think I’d just toot my own horn in this post without addressing the fact that I often fall short and miss the mark in my business endeavors, did you? Have I missed a few deadlines? Yes…Have I dealt with situations that didn’t always turn out the way I thought they would? Of course…
If you blow it with a client, the best thing you can do is be the first to admit it, and then be willing to correct it.
I’ve let clients down. I’ve blown it. But you know what? Learn from your mistakes, don’t live in them. Make the decision to do better the next time.
Even if you’ve never walked in integrity or excellence before, today is a perfect starting point. You’ll be building on a solid foundation that simply can not fail, regardless of the economy (unless of course you are selling snowballs to Eskimos). One day will turn into two, weeks will turn into months, and then all of a sudden you’ll realize that you have a reputation, and it’s a good one!