The overarching key to your success is ultimately in the quality of the product or service you provide. Conducting all the marketing in the world is all good and well to raise awareness and generate leads however if the quality of what you offer isn’t up to par then you’ll still experience trouble in converting leads into acquisitions and retaining customers in the long run.
When many SMEs start out a massive onus is often placed on ensuring the quality of their product/service is spot on. This is often due to the need to prove that their offering is worthwhile and so the quality helps to build credibility during the initial stages. However what often happens with these very same businesses when they grow is that quality can be sacrificed and the focus is instead turned to other areas. For example if a SME starts to experience a sudden growth in demand and is currently working at close to full capacity the focus is then switched to meeting this demand by any means necessary which often leads to quality deteriorating at some point.
This is especially true for businesses operating in the services sector where the quality of the service provided is paramount, however if resources are over exerted due to excessive demand then chances are customers will experience at best a mediocre level of service. Many businesses who offer a service rely on retaining customers for future business and so providing a quality experience on a consistent basis is vital as a couple of bad experiences could lead to losing a customer for a lifetime. Manufacturers also face a similar problem when they take their eye is off quality. Faults and defects can start to creep through and end up on store shelves, opening the door to scrutiny when noticed by buyers. This is why it’s important for them to maintain quality control procedures and conduct regular checks at varying stages to ensure everything is as it should be.
Why quality is more important now than ever before
The adverse affect of poor quality is far more damaging now than ever before. The growth of smartphone technology along with smartphone ownership now means that people have instant access to voice their opinions as and where they please. Many people will waste no time in leaving negative feedback on review sites and social media, with research supporting the fact that people are more willing to leave a review after a negative experience than they are for a positive one. Additionally people are also more likely to share a bad experience amongst their friends and family than they are a good one. A few bad reviews can seriously tarnish a SMEs image, especially if they don’t have positive reviews to counteract these. For this reason it should be encouraged to develop a degree of dialogue between your business and your customers in order to not only receive more reviews of a positive nature but also gain feedback on any issues which there may be in a more constructive manner.
Measuring customer satisfaction
Customer surveys – conducting a post purchase survey is a great way of gaining customer feedback fresh from their experience. These surveys don’t have to be publically published and so provide a discrete means of identifying and then dealing with any issues internally.
Independent review site – sites which such as Trust Pilot and Trip Advisor allow you to gradually build a set of reviews which over time will support the quality of your offering and allow your business to be seen in a more favourable light.
Social media – Social media is huge today and people are often directly communicating with brands. Having people leave their feedback on social media can be a risky ploy with it being such an open and public platform. However doing so also shows a degree of care and concern in the quality of the offering you provide and direct communication through social media can help to alleviate bad feelings with a dissatisfied customer.
A high quality offering should be the focal point of your business, and having it publicised through things such as reviews should also be concentrated on to help build credibility for what you do. Engage with your customers and encourage them to leave reviews when you feel they’ve been pleased with your product or service.
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