What does it mean for a business to be professional? Different people might have contrasting interpretations of the word. However, it means a company is skilled at what they do, and customers feel the same way.
Delivering a top-notch product or service isn’t necessarily enough to instill consumer confidence. A lot of times, the perception of professionalism comes from internal processes and outward appearances. If you want to boost your company’s professionalism and get your perception in line with your product, here are three things to consider.
1. Prioritize customer convenience
Customers appreciate it when you have respect for their time. Scheduling appointments, meeting in person, and mailing checks all take time. If you don’t adopt methods to minimize customer inconvenience, they will notice. But with modern technology, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to provide a better customer experience.
For example, scheduling an initial appointment is something that used to involve several steps and multiple people. Potential customers would first need to find a phone number, either through an advertisement or a recommendation. After that, they would call the number and either get put through to a receptionist or an answering machine. After some back and forth, a mutual time would be found, and more phone calls would occur if rescheduling was necessary. Sure, it gets the job done, but what if you could just click a button instead?
If you use a meeting scheduler, you can have a link on your website that allows customers to schedule, cancel, or reschedule appointments. Most of them will automatically add the meetings to everyone’s calendars and therefore send alerts as the meeting approaches. That can also alleviate the need for your team to call or email the client with reminders.
2. Develop a cohesive image
The most effective businesses tend to have a strong idea of their brand and who their target audience is. The business’ website design, dress code, and physical location should present a cohesive image. Failing to do so won’t inspire confidence from customers, even if they can’t pinpoint what it is about your company that seems “off.”
Imagine being a customer who walks into a restaurant that serves high dollar steak and seafood. Diners might be very willing to pay $75 or more per plate for such a meal. They might question the restaurant’s competency, however, if the wait staff are dressed in ripped jeans and tie dye shirts. In the end, it doesn’t matter how good the food is if the restaurant appears haphazard and unfocused.
Having a professional image doesn’t necessarily mean upscale business attire and opulent surroundings. It’s simply having a firm answer to the question of who you are as a company and using it as a focal point. It would be professional for a hip marketing firm to have a sleek website with lots of white space and strong pops of color. The site of a seed corn supplier attempting to use that same design might appear childish and out of touch.
If you feel like your aesthetic or presentation isn’t cohesive, come up with a list of branding descriptors to help you focus. From there, review every touch point of the client experience and make sure they’re in line with your list.
3. Modernize your processes
Except for a few industries such as healthcare and government, fax machines are laughably outdated. It’s also rare to see businesses with rooms loaded with filing cabinets full of paper records.
There might be some employees and clients who find old-fashioned practices to be folksy and charming. Most people, though, interpret them as inefficient and outdated. And when your processes are outdated, people will assume your products and services are as well.
Just because you think what you’ve always done is working just fine, other companies are looking to the future. If you’ve been waiting to investigate whether you could offer hybrid work options or a client upload portal, act now. Most of the time, process updates are simpler and cheaper to implement than you might think.
And it’s not just your customers that matter when it comes to professionalism. If your employees feel like your company is an unfocused mess, that can affect more than just retention. Employees perform better and treat clients better if they’re confident in their employer’s processes. Also, if your workers genuinely praise the products and operations of your company, that tends to carry weight with clients and your peers.
Especially if you’re trying to convince customers to pay for high-end goods and services, they need to be confident in your company. Confidence comes from how you present yourself in the public eye and how smoothly your operations run.
So, if you want to get a boost in how potential customers perceive your business, look at their experience from beginning to end. Will they be impressed with your online presence, your functionality, and how easy it is to make a transaction? If not, you need to consider how to want to be perceived and adjust anything not working toward that end.
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