When they talk about small companies, people often seem to get very scared about “looking like an amateur” and treat it as a big bad bogey man who must be appeased at all cost. Granted, everyone wants to look professional, no one wants to appear incompetent, least of all to their prospective clients or customers. But most of the time, these people are not really concerned with the professionality of a company at all, they’re scared to death that someone might see the human side of your business.
This fear of the human touch is endemic, from the roots of government right to the franchised shops and banks on the high street. Behind the scenes, call centres generate a total lack of personality – even when an operator gives their first name, who ever rings up later in the week and actually asks to speak to them?
In some instances the Internet can make things worse. Automated ticketing systems for technical support are meant to improve accountability, but the reality is that they often give a large support group a wall of anonymity to hide behind. In some organizations, a single ticket is picked up by several different staff member and any notion of being helped by a real person vanishes. Unless rapid resolution occurs, customers can easily be left feeling frustrated and under valued. The workers in this process are also left feeling uninspired because they do not get to build any kind of relationship with the customers.
When your company is small, the people in it are what count. In the early months of a business, they may be the only thing that differentiates your company. They all need to be able to talk to your customers, and your customers need some visibility on who does what.
My message: be bold and show that you’re a person. We’re all people, so when friends and family warn you about being too personal, be kind but firm with them. Before hiring your first employee, you’re all you have – say NO to becoming a faceless corporation!
I hope the mere existence of this blog reveals something about my own personality, but as the site grows in the coming weeks, I’ll be adding more information about my background, (including why I think I’m qualified to do what I’m doing).