Four Vital Aspects of Building Business

…That Often Get Ignored

2017 has been a year on the road. Hotels, meals, work and sightseeing means spending lots of time being someone else’s customer. More often than not the service I receive falls short in simple, but very important areas. Here are four ways to improve how people perceive your business.

  1. Response Urgency

It’s simple, yet somehow forgotten. When someone sends you an email, respond that day with a simple message letting them know you received it. Even if you don’t have an answer yet, it’s good business to let someone know you’ve “got it” and will be back to them before _____. If you miss a call and someone leaves a message it should be returned within 24 hours. Businesses which routinely fail to answer phones lose a LOT of business. Those who place a low urgency on returning missed calls are dying a slow death.

  1. Accountability

On my last business trip to New York, the air conditioning in my room stopped working. I called the front desk and they said they would send someone right up. Two hours later I went down to see why no one had responded. Instead of admitting they forgot, they told me they never received my request! I found it insulting that they thought I was dumb enough to believe their excuse.

Every business makes mistakes. Most customers understand that and will accept the proper response. Deferring accountability or creating excuses is a huge mistake because it rarely fools an unhappy customer. By owning up to your mistakes and finding the proper solution, you can turn a negative into a positive. You’ll also have a much better chance of avoiding negative social media reviews.

  1. Attentiveness

Sometimes businesses are just too busy to provide immediate help to another customer. But ignoring them while they continue to work with others is a huge mistake and demonstrates indifference. Making simple eye contact and letting the customer know how long their wait will be goes a long way in busy times.

  1. Displaying Gratitude

It seems like the new response when I say thank you to someone who served me is “no problem.” But that response kind of is a problem. I don’t want to feel like my business ever could have been considered a problem for you. I just want you to say thank you, and preferably before I thank you.

The simple things often mean the most when building relationships. Business is about serving others in a manner that motivates them to return. You can have the best products in your marketplace, but if you don’t master the things which build relationships, you will miss more opportunities than you can imagine.


  1. Thank you Ken,

    These are bang on and all but I practice regularly with the first one I will do better on immediately. We operate a small framing studio in Wolfville NS and I am the main framer, designer. With electronic communication so immediate it is challenging to reply fully on the spot so yes a “got it” would give me time and not let the prospective client think I am ignoring them.

    Thank you for your practical and useful advice.

    Mary Ann and Tony Marissink

    • Thank you for the feedback Mary Ann and Tony,

      I’m glad the “Got it” will be helpful. There are some very useful tools with some email services (I use INBOX from Gmail), that will also schedule a reminder to finish a reply at a later date.

  2. Great information Ken, as usual. Speaking of accountability – I was working on a clients photograph, which had been printed on a fragile metallic paper. I went to move it out of my way as I prepped the matting and it slipped and fell on the table, causing a “dent.” After banging my head against the wall and thinking about putting my wrist in the mitre saw I nervously called the client and explained what happened, offering to pay for a replacement printing of the photo. The client thanked me for my honesty and told me not to worry, he would reorder the print, no worries. I thanked him for being understanding.

    I am a big believer in accountability and honesty and I know my repeat clients respect this in my business.
    Thinking Outside the Frame,

    • Great example Tom. We’ve all been in that situation,but not everyone makes the right call – it’s hard to do but builds trust and trust builds loyalty. I’m VERY happy to hear that you didnt choose the mitre saw option!

  3. From the client perspective, acknowledgement, ownership and apology of mistakes goes a long way in keeping my business. This morning my lawn care company accidentally sprayed my yard twice in one week. We’re all human and mistakes happen, but they could have been jerks about it. They didn’t just return my call, they came to my doorstep within one hour to apologize (and sincerely at that). They did not play the blame game, or try to minimize the problem, and they did everything to rectify it. I will remain their customer because of how they handled their mistake. My experience today put me “on the other side of the counter” and exemplifies your four points here. In fact, during the whole conversation I kept thinking about this blog post and checking things off in my head. 😉

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Tracy. It is amazing that when we run into someone who handles something professionally, it almost becomes a surprise since we’ve become accustomed to indifferent service. Your loyalty actually grew for this company because they proved you could trust them and we all know that kind of relationship is rare.

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