I imagine many of Wedge’s readers are professionals working in business, and that their ‘work’ comms are also professional and perhaps of a certain corporate style.
My own tiny business is a lifestyle business, and although I do consider myself to be professional in the way I run it regarding service, that professionalism sometimes gets lost in my communications. It’s really hard to remain completely professional when one is selling erasers!
The problem is it’s still a business, and my ultimate aim is to make money. Finding a balance in my comms that both reflects my professionalism and keeps my customers happy is somewhat challenging. My customers want excellent service and products, and they also want to be my friend. But they’re not my friends, they’re my customers, and as harsh as it sounds all I really want is their cash!
Usually in online business a customer might email with their requirements, you provide the service, they pay and that’s the end of it. Not so for me. My customers want to interact. They want to tell me about their eraser collections, their partners, their children. They want a relationship that goes beyond me selling them a rubber. The very nature of my business demands a level of friendliness that’s unnecessary for many businesses. This is a challenge for me, as it’s difficult to allot time to customers who might not actually be spending on my products rights now. The relationship is more important to them than it is to me. I do my best to be friendly and professional.
Unfortunately, because these lovely customers then believe they are my friends, they begin to expect the privileges that come with friendship.
They want special treatment – they want me to give them discounts and first refusal on special erasers. They don’t want me to auction my erasers and make a nice profit – the want to get a bargain for their collection. I’ve given in so many times, and lost money, simply for an easy life. But I need to be more ruthless now and think of my bottom line. I need to find a way of being friendly without giving people the impression that I’m their friend. A comms challenge for sure!
Photo credit: therapycatgarden
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Jules is an executive PA and also runs the largest eraser emporium in the world (AFAIK) and you can find out more at originalerasers.co.uk
Jules manages FirstSigns with me, and is a keen writer with an eye for detail like an electron microscope.