It’s a given that business owners and employees alike should act in a professional manner. What constitutes professionalism? To a degree, it can be interpreted in different ways. When you own your own business this becomes even more important to be professional and be conscientious of how others view you.
Professionalism directly relates to customer service. And, strong customer service is essential to a successful business. It’s not only important to be professional when it comes to customers, but also when talking with colleagues, business partners, and vendors. Your image and reputation is everything.
Let’s be honest, many of us don’t have a large marketing budget. But, being professional is one free way we can increase our word-of-mouth exposure. On the flip side, if you act in an unprofessional manner, there can be severe consequences. It’s not always true that any publicity is good publicity. If word gets out about a poor interaction it can really harm your business, even for weeks and months to come.
Here are five personality traits that contribute to your professionalism and business success.
1. Experiential Smarts
You don’t need a Ph.D. to be educated about the business world and the company that you run. By doing research and gaining experience in your field you become educated. You will be more respected if you are knowledgeable about your products, competitors, and customers. You can never know too much and you should never stop learning.
I’m sure you don’t enjoy dealing with unkind people, so why would you subject your customers and business partners to the same misery? A kind word can go a long way in building respect and trust. Personally, I’m drawn toward kind people. Simple kindness can imply so much more. It will naturally attract the type of people that you want to do business with.
It goes without saying that a dishonest business person is a lousy one. Going above and beyond to be fair when there is a mistake or a misunderstanding can give your customer the extra confidence that they are dealing with a top-notch company. Going above and beyond may mean making sure that the customer is always right, even if they really aren’t. Use your best judgement. Sometimes it is better not to make an enemy and just over compensate a little.
Nobody is perfect; each of us can only do our best. Realizing that, as business owners, we aren’t above our customers, but rather on a level playing field, can go a long way in building relationships. Just as we expect respect, it should be shown to others as well. It really comes down to relationship building. People feel comfortable doing business with those they trust. By laying the groundwork, we can form strong relationships that then turn into strong businesses.
Potential customers don’t have to become customers. Current customers don’t have to remain customers. By showing your appreciation, you can help to ensure that customers will return and recommend you to others. I am appreciative of each of my customers and try to show it with things like thank you notes, referral programs and repeat discounts. Especially during this time of year, notes of gratitude can go a long way in creating repeat customers.
How do you portray professionalism? What personality traits do you think contribute to small business success?
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Dawn Berryman is the founder of MarketMommy.com and Market Mommy:: The Blog, online marketing resources for mom entrepreneurs. Market Mommy shows moms how and where to market their businesses. She holds a B.A. from Indiana University and has worked in the marketing/communications field for more than 11 years. She resides in rural Ohio with her husband and three children. For more information, please see: Market Mommy.