A Picture Paints a Thousand Words…
Or so it is said…what kind of picture do your employees and other business associates paint of you and your company? And how important is it? Even more importantly, how would your clients and customers paint it?
Anyone who works for you, with you, or partners with you in any type of a business relationship becomes a representative of you and your vision of what is acceptable or tolerable in your organization. If you endorse them or use them as a sub-contractor, your name and your reputation get associated with them, like it or not. Their level of professionalism becomes your level of professionalism.
What kind of picture are they painting?
It’s all about the details…
If a company has a fleet of vehicles that make service calls, it is safe to say the customers impression of the company will be formed by the vehicle and the individual(s) inside it. If they are dirty vehicles, the customer will form an impression that, from the dirty vehicles up through owner of the company, cleanliness is not a priority. This especially becomes a problem if the company is there to perform a cleaning task…!
If you asked that customer to paint a picture of what the main office looks like (based on the truck), they likely envision a dirty floor, overflowing trash cans, and a building that needs painting; The reality may be that the office is brand new, white glove clean, and the owner is meticulously groomed, but that picture has already been painted because of the dirty truck.
Here’s another example – think about when anyone other than you answers your business phone on your behalf; whether you like it or not, they are making a statement about you.
They are painting a picture of you.
Their tone, inflection, confidence, all represent you. Are they polite? Friendly? Do they know what they’re talking about? At that moment, how that call is handled, represents not only you, but your entire company and everything you have invested in it.
Many companies have turned to third party answering services or automated systems to handle call overload or after hour calls. In some cases that might be fine, but you have to keep in mind for the unsuspecting “First Time Caller”, the way an answering service answers the phone becomes that potential customers first (and only) real view of your business.
If the call isn’t handled with the same level of professionalism that you would provide, the “First Time Caller” doesn’t know or care. If handled poorly, they may be annoyed to the point they will no longer consider doing business with you and you never even talked to them. Think about companies you’ve interacted with that handle those calls poorly…were you interested in becoming a customer of theirs?
You are who you hang out with…
This past spring LinkedIn became the largest internet IPO since Google in 2004. Their membership is now well over 100 Million members. One’s LinkedIn connections may be a little more indirect in making a statement about your business, but the ability to “Accept” or “Not Accept” connections with other career professionals causes the owner of his/her LinkedIn page to paint a picture of what their professional landscape looks like. Best practice from LinkedIn is to carefully exercise consideration before you allow somebody into your network. Stick with the people you Know, Like and Trust…and will reflect positively on you!
Take some time today to think about the picture others would paint of your business. What would it look like? Think about everyone who can affect the clarity and message of that picture? Are you controlling the paint brush? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.
Chris Steinlage, Kansas City Business Coach