Solid business practices never change. You can learn new technology, but good old quality customer service never dies. So many companies these days claim to be experts on Facebook, or have some fancy application that tracks the progress of your hi-tech project. Others claim to be experts in some fancy topic. When you boil it down, certain principles in business never change. Here they are:
1. Writing Skills
Some people are “Twitter experts.” Being good on Twitter amounts to having good writing skills. The actual skill to be able to run a Twitter account is not rocket science. You follow, unfollow, like, retweet, and post. Those skills you can learn in minutes and master in a few months. The harder skills are writing skills. If you didn’t do well at school, and if you are not talented as a writer, you won’t do well on Twitter. Furthermore, the type of writing skill used on Twitter is much harder than article writing. You need to be able to pack a punch in 140 characters including a link. If your post doesn’t grab attention, and the right type of attention, your Twitter account will never make it in the big leagues and worse yet — Kim Kardashian will never recognize you!
2. Prompt Communication
Some people think that because they are a genious programmer or that they work for a fancy company with a good name that is what is important. Not so. Being good at basic activities such as answering simple emails determines your success in business. If I am shopping around for companies and email twenty companies, the ones that email me back first with thoughtful answers to my queries will be most likely to get the job. Those that either don’t answer, or answer my email only to ask me questions without answer my questions will not be hired by me. It’s that simple. Those who answer their phone and return messages promptly win the game.
3. Good Communication
If you have an outsourcing company in some foreign country with an outstanding technical staff, then you are the right company to hire right? WRONG! You are the wrong company to hire because you put a moron on phones who is so incompetent that he/she/it cannot even answer the question, “What city are you in” without putting you on hold to transfer you to someone with half a brain. Put people with at least 3/4’s of a brain on phones, otherwise nobody respectable will ever hire you!
4. Meeting Deadlines
It doesn’t matter how good you are if you are never on time. Projects need to get done correctly and on time. If you get the job done, but leave bugs or errors, then you have to go back and fix those errors. If you take forever about fixing them, nobody with choices will hire you. Find a way to get your work done on time and every time, and that way people will trust you and respect you.
5. Pleasing Customers
I read somewhere that less than 1% of clients are satisfied with the service they receive from most businesses. This is a very vague and useless statistic, but the point is that most customers are not satisfied. If you can satisfy clients, you will be in the top 1% and you might get lots of referrals. You don’t need high tech 2016 type knowledge of cloud computing to figure out how to please a client. Find out what they want by paying attention to feedback and perhaps asking them what they want — and then give it to them. This is not brain surgery here — it is basic common sense.
6. Staying Open
If you are always closed whenever customers want to talk to you, they will find someone else to talk to. If you have a store that’s always closed (like the bagel store down the street) then people will get out of the habit of going there. If you run a BPO which is closed for every Indian holiday, and a few that you just made up because you didn’t want to go to work — your customers will put your company on a permanent holiday. Spend more days at work, or at least have a few staff members keeping shop open on holidays and weekends so your American clients will not feel you are playing hookey!
7. Hire People With Integrity
People hire based on technical skills and social skills, but the most important “skill” is integrity. Those who do not care about what they do, or about people they work with will not be good workers in the end. You need people who do not drop the ball, but pick up the ball when others drop it. You need people who will make sure the job gets done correctly no matter what. Most employees couldn’t care less, and flake on all types of things. Employees who will be pillars in your organization need to care and be conscientious about everything for your organization to succeed. You can teach someone with integrity technical skills, but you cannot teach integrity. That is something you either have or don’t have and it grows much more slowly within people. A technical skill can be learned in a year. Character can take several lifetimes to build and God knows what the result will be.
8. Don’t Bit Off More Than You Can Chew
Many new businesses want to start off fast and grow like crazy. You need to grow at the speed of nature. Start small, and build your way up to the top learning basic business fundementals the whole time. Those who are stable and succeed in the long run are stable and base their business on old-school business strategies which are solid. Those who try to grow too fast, also fall the hardest. In business, there is more to lose than to gain, so go slow so you don’t get yourself and others into big trouble.