Business owners understand what their company is about and how they want it to be perceived, but that doesn’t mean it translates to consumers. Here are some mistakes that you might not have even known you were making, and ways to correct them.
You ignore social media
If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, not only are you missing out on a huge (and free) marketing opportunity, but you’re also allowing others to determine how your brand is perceived. Small businesses without a lot of extra bandwidth might want to focus on one or two social media outlets that make the most sense for their customers, like Facebook and Instagram. Consumers count on social media for updated info about businesses, like holiday hours and special promotions, as well as customer service interactions. If you aren’t updating these sites regularly, customers might see your business as a bit outdated or, worse, uncaring.
And when it comes to social networking sites like Yelp, it’s important to stay on top of what people are saying about you. If you get a bad review, it’s essential that you respond to it immediately and, if possible, try to make things right with the customer. Even if you can’t resolve things, customers see that you’re responsive and committed to quality and customer service.
You have outdated payment options
In an era where credit card fraud and identity theft are rampant, consumers are more concerned than ever about the security of their financial transactions. So, if you only offer traditional magnetic-stripe readers (which can be more susceptible to fraud), this may give customers pause. When you offer the most advanced payments options like EMV and NFC, you’re showing your customers that you’re committed to protecting their financial security, and they’ll feel confident shopping with you in the future. What’s more, NFC payments (like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay) are by far the fastest and most convenient ways to pay. By accepting them, you’ll offer your customers a superior shopping experience.
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You offer too many discounts
Customers love a good sale, and it’s an important way to move inventory to make room for a new season’s merchandise. But there are also businesses that overdo it, and that’s when you run into a perception problem. If your items are discounted too often, a customer might skip paying full price on the assumption that the merchandise will be on sale in a week or two. Consumers will perceive you as a less valuable brand. Be judicious about discounts, and when you do have a sale, make it a big event that you publicize via social media and promote through email marketing messages to your customer base.
Your scheduling system is by telephone only
If you operate a salon or spa and the only way clients can schedule or change appointments is by phone, they’re going to get frustrated (fast). Your business hours probably coincide with their work hours, which means it can be tough for them to sneak in a call at lunch — especially if that’s when everyone is calling, which means they end up on hold. Instead, invest in an online scheduling program that allows customers to book or reschedule appointments online at any time. Not only will customers appreciate the modern convenience of the system, but you’ll likely get an uptick in appointments.
Your website was designed a decade ago
Don’t underestimate the importance of your web presence. If customers look for you online and find a website with ’80s imagery and a ’90s font, they probably won’t find it charming and retro. Even if you don’t offer e-commerce, it’s still important that you have a beautiful website with clear, current information about who you are and where you are. And if you do have e-commerce, that should be a seamless process, too. It doesn’t need to have a lot of bells and whistles, just a clean, simple layout and nice photography.