Top 7 Deadly Sins of Business
By Virginia Bola
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No matter the industry involved, the products manufactured, or the services offered, there are many universal areas where poor performance in business is truly a deadly sin and can lead to company layoffs, bankruptcies, and plant closures. Here is a rather arbitrary list:
- POOR QUALITY
Perceived lack of quality by customers is almost impossible to overcome. While price may determine the number of bells and whistles a product provides, even the basic “stripped down” model needs to perform in its limited manner with reliability and convenience. Rigorous testing, precise quality control, and knowledgeable back up after purchase are non-negotiable requirements, no matter how low the price.
- INFERIOR SERVICE
We don’t expect to receive the same level of service at an all-night coffee shop as in a 5 star restaurant. We set our expectations at a level commensurate with our budget and our particular needs. Within those boundaries, the level of service should be reflective of the core tenets of customer service: placing the customer’s interests first, courtesy and respect, and speed of response. The public can deal with delays due to temporary under-staffing or unexpectedly high traffic (think of airport lines), but only if treated politely by attentive and cordial employees.
- LACK OF TRUST
Life in Twentyfirst-Century America is rife with scams. The public is so inured to sales schemes that every potential transaction seems to trigger the response of “What’s the catch?” Providing a little more than expected, standing by your guarantees, and resolving complaints to the customer’s satisfaction will build the kind of trust that eventually turns fragile acorns into massive oak trees.
We have all eagerly clicked on those e-mails promising “free goods” only to find 10 pages and 20 minutes later that “2 offers from List B and 1 offer from List C” are required to qualify. An upfront approach to what is, and what is not, included in a product or price leads to a mutually beneficial interaction and a positive atmosphere for additional future sales.
- LACK OF COMMUNICATION
We have all struggled with the frustration of trying to put together an “easy to assemble” product based on directions obviously written by non-native-english speakers. Be available to your customers for any questions or problems: give an 800 number to call, list your e-mail address prominently on your Website. Strong businesses know that a sale is never just a sale but is one step in a relationship process. Like all relationships, listening, communicating, and nurturing are vital in ensuring that the relationship thrives.
- LACK OF PUBLICITY
The old adage of building a better mousetrap to bring the world to your door only works if the world is aware of the mousetrap’s existence. There are millions of Websites, for example, that receive very little traffic. Does that mean that they are inferior or not helpful? Not necessarily. They attract little traffic because they are difficult to find and few people have the unlimited time needed to search for resources beyond the first 2 or 3 pages of the major search engines. Lack of visibility leads to lack of visitors, lack of sales, and, eventually, lack of any business at all.
- BLURRED FOCUS
Walmart Superstores notwithstanding, we tend to prefer to deal with “experts” in their field. For anything outside our routine shopping, we want to feel that the advice and information we are receiving is accurate and based upon considerable knowledge and experience. Americans have grown up in a specialized world. They see an all-encompassing company as too distracting. They don’t want to scroll through pages in a thick catalog or online, or through lengthy written sales materials, to try to identify what is being sold and what level of specific help is available. That is the reason why giant conglomerates maintain the name and the look of the companies they assimilate. They want the public to associate each of their brand names with expertise and quality within that one special niche. If the holding company name of ABC, Inc. is applied to every one of their products, from soup to nuts, candy bars to work tools, accounting to real estate, construction to drugstore items, then the name means nothing and sales are lost to smaller competitors who present a limited, concise, but well-orchestrated presentation of an integrated line of products or services.
Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a respected Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and emotionally supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at [http://www.virginiabola.com]
Article Submitted On: January 17, 2005