Back to Basics: Two Must-Have Areas of Excellence for Budding Entrepreneurs
By Guest Author, La’Wana Harris
The world of entrepreneurship is one of constant change, risk and opportunity. We brave the tides of customer trends, innovation and market place conditions— and we love it. However, the opportunity to succeed as an entrepreneur doesn’t come easy. There are conditions that apply to small, emerging businesses that don’t apply to other sectors in the business world. There are a few “musts” that entrepreneurs are required to practice to stay float amongst the odds.
Let’s review a familiar scenario. You’re on the phone with a specialist who doesn’t know what they are doing. After being transferred multiple times you finally request the manager. You’re excited to resolve your issue when the manager says, “I’m sorry, I need to transfer you to the department that handles these requests.” We’ve all been there.
As entrepreneurs, most of our customer interactions are first impressions for our brand. We don’t have the luxury of having a preceding reputation that can withstand an interaction like the one described above. We must deliver every time we have the chance. Here are two ways to ensure that you always deliver excellence.
1. Whatever you do, do it well
This is Business 101 right? It should be. Yet many entrepreneurs on their quest for the “next big thing” fall into the trap of pursuing speed to market and low cost instead of value. You don’t have to be an expert in everything—just the thing that you are doing.
As entrepreneurs, we must ensure that everyone who represents or supports our brand is well trained and fully competent. No doubt all organizations strive for the same result, but we don’t have to look far to see that many are failing miserably. In an environment where excellence in execution and delivery is often the exception, we as entrepreneurs can establish a competitive advantage by simply taking the time to ensure that our brand is associated with knowledgeable, competent professionals.
Excellence begins with you. You are leading from the front as an entrepreneur and this requires a commitment to two key competencies: self-awareness and self- development.
Self-awareness: There are really good options available to learn about yourself and how you “show up.” It really doesn’t matter if you choose a tried and true tool like Meyers-Briggs or one of the more recent assessments like Insights. The impact is the same. You get to learn about yourself, your preferences and most importantly your potential blind spots.
The insights you gain about yourself and your preferences allow you to improve your ability to adapt and connect with others. You will also acquire valuable feedback that will help you flex your communication style resulting in improved interpersonal skills. Finally, the application of the key insights and enhanced interpersonal skills will lead to strong relationships with your employees and customers.
Self-development: Staying abreast of industry changes, market trends and the latest technological advances seems almost impossible in the current era of information overload. However, we can overcome this seemingly impossible task by adopting a few simple best practices. Our credibility and impact will soar as we dedicate time for ongoing training and development.
As entrepreneurs we are accustomed to operating in “get it done” mode. This natural propensity fuels our success as a business owner and it can also hinder our ability to slow down. One best practice that works well for me is my commitment to the “Sacred 20.” Block 20 minutes on your calendar everyday to learn and grow your capabilities. You may review something that you have done in the past to refresh your knowledge or explore something totally new. Either way it will be time well spent!
2. Excellence in customer service must be resurrected
How many times a day to you find yourself interacting with people who appear to be stuck in jobs that they hate? There seems to be a secret training class on how to not deliver good customer service based on the high number of customers who report being surprised when they receive good service.
In fact, there’s a whole litany of sidesplitting examples of poor customer service. Many of which have contributed to some of the most famous satire. Real life experiences with inept employees or business owners are usually not funny at all and result in loss customers.
We also have an amplifying factor in the importance of resurrecting customer service. Social media outlets have given customers an immediate platform for voicing their opinions—and the world is listening. Many businesses have found themselves in crisis mode following a bad review going viral.
Who could ever forget the scene in Pretty Woman when Vivian (Julia Roberts) strolled into a posh Rodeo Drive boutique in search for some “appropriate” attire? Vivian points to an outfit on the mannequin and asks, “How much is this?” The sales woman replies, “I don’t think this would fit you.” “Well,” Vivian says, “I didn’t ask if it would fit. I asked how much it was.”
The clerk even went as far as saying, “I don’t think we have anything for you. You’re obviously in the wrong place.” The looks Vivian received as she asked about the cost of the outfit coupled with the condescending tone in the store clerk’s response resulted in the loss of a huge sale. This spelled bad news for the boutique’s bottom line.
Vivian’s story, while fictional, is not a far stretch from many real-life customer experiences. The good news is that entrepreneurs can set the stage for resurrecting customer service within our respective industries. Cloud Cherry shared some great tips to help you along the path to excellence in their “Top 11 customer experience resolutions you need to make for 2017” infographic.
There are many more keys to success as an entrepreneur. Focusing the fundamentals such as doing what you do extremely well and establishing a service culture will help you develop a sustainable competitive advantage in the increasing demanding entrepreneurial marketplace.
To learn more about La’Wana, visit lawanaharris.com