If you have followed my series of articles on attracting and keeping customers, you will have discovered that it is essential to the life and survival of every business but yet it is not often seen in our daily transactions with companies. I hope that by now you will have a passion for delivering excellent levels of customer service and giving all your customers an experience that will motivate them to return and buy from you.

Let me round off the articles on customer care by leaving you with the following ten things that you must never do in business. They are in no particular order but are written as the ideas came to me as I sat down to write.

  • Don’t run a nationwide advertising campaign without testing it first. This is called “test marketing” and it means that you will choose a select sample of customers, in a particular area, and try it out on them first. So for example, you choose a particular area in the country that is fairly representative of the population, and you launch your product there and only there. By examining what happens, you can fix all the things that went wrong, things that perhaps you could not have anticipated, teething problems that came to light, and when you have got everything right, you can then roll it out to the whole country with greater confidence of success.
  • Don’t be less than 100% truthful with customers. If you lie to them, you will eventually be found out and customers will resent this and stop shopping with you.
  • Don’t refuse to fix a customer’s problem because of store policy. They don’t care about your policy. They have a problem and are expecting you to solve it.
  • Don’t pull an ad campaign while it is still producing. Sometimes this happens because someone takes over and wants to put their stamp on everything. But if it is working don’t pull it. Work with it and maybe try and improve it but don’t pull it.
  • Don’t ignore customer’s mail and phone calls. Respond to them quickly and sensitively. No one likes to feel ignored.
  • Don’t focus only on mass media. There are plenty of other ways to market and promote your business so use a complete marketing mix.
  • Don’t spend a penny without having a written marketing plan. Every penny spent should be within the parameters of your marketing plan. If you don’t have one, then draft one or hire someone who can help you to do so.
  • Don’t hesitate when asked to describe your marketing position in two sentences. You should be clear on this if you have a marketing plan and you should be able to roll it off the tongue very eloquently and without thinking.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. You cannot be in business if you are not prepared to take risks. Taking risks has by definition, the possibility of failure. But think positively. Do your homework, plan carefully, evaluate the risks involved, develop a strategy and a contingency plan, and go for it.
  • Don’t work all the hours that God sends. Of course you must work hard and this will sometimes be long hours, but persistent long hours and not much else (because you are too tired to do anything else) is a recipe for stress, fatigue and sickness. You need time to de-stress, to chill out and unwind. You need time for important people in your life, and you need time for hobbies and interests. You need time for you. Having a balanced life will result in you feeling better as a human being and you will likewise perform better in your business.

Running a business is never easy at the best of times. There is so much to do and there never seems enough hours in the day. Most of us who go into business were never taught how to run a business. We just set up a business and get on with it. This is why so many businesses fail each year and why we see such shoddy service.

Have a written plan for all that you do and are proposing to do. This plan will set your company direction and it must include targeting, winning and keeping customers. Do this well and the rest of your business will be fine. Good luck!