Why reliability matters in small business

By Lynda Schenk | 12 Jan 2022 View comments

There is nothing more frustrating as a customer than when a business makes an empty promise, is unreliable, or gives out wrong information. Not only does that business risk losing a customer, they also risk negative online reviews and having their reputation damaged by bad word of mouth. On the flipside, when small businesses are reliable, communicate in a timely manner, with the right message and uphold their end of the bargain consistently, people will repeat buy from them and market the business with positive word of mouth recommendations.

It’s simple, yet many businesses still get it wrong and risk failure as a result. Here are some tips to make sure you get it right.

Be there, or be square

For bricks and mortar businesses it’s best practice to employ a regular routine of business hours, opening times, and/or locations which you stick to consistently. Be open when you say you will, and if for some reason it changes make sure you communicate it broadly, and if possible, in advance, to let people know. If you attend markets or have different trading locations, make this information available on your website and social media accounts to ensure your customers know where you will be, and when.

Know your customers and catch them when it’s best…for them!

Knowing when your customers are visiting your website, searching for you online, or engaging with your messages, you have the very best chance of meeting their needs and making a successful sale. You may have consumer segments with different timing windows and needs. Understanding this, and actively catering to it, will also increase your success and efficiencies. Avoid bending your customer’s schedules around your needs, instead fit your schedule and your communications around them. This is intelligent timing, and as they say – timing is everything!

Meet customer expectations

Depending on your marketing and product mix, your customers will have certain expectations of your product, service, or business. These expectations will differ for each individual and be influenced by pricing, communication, messaging, location, and experience. However, the key to a successful, positive, and ongoing customer relationship, is to meet or exceed these expectations every time. If you’re reliable and consistent you will meet expectations and your customers will trust you and your claims.

Deliver on time and always in full

Meeting timelines, delivery dates and deadlines shows you are reliable. This will create trust; trust promotes repeat business and repeat business is money for jam! The key is to set deadlines that are achievable within your business framework, but once you do this, don’t miss them. If something comes up, and it’s unavoidable that you will not be able to keep your end of the bargain, communicate this as soon as possible and provide a reason why, and then set a new achievable timeframe. It can sometimes help to remove any chance of negativity, by offering some form of compensation for the inconvenience.

In life, as in business, reliability and timing is the core of every successful functioning relationship and the basis of trust. Without it, there is only frustration, which leads to failure. It’s a simple concept, and one every business needs to make sure they get right more often than not.

This article was first published on Inside Small Business, a sibling website to Inside Franchise Business Executive.