Through the Eyes of a Customer, No. 1
The demands of day to day operations can cause business owners to forget to look at their business through the eyes of their customers. It is easy to do, and just as easy to forget to do.
Occasionally enter your business the same way your customers do. They don't enter through the "back door" you may use every day. This "front entrance" may include an actual door, a telephone line, delivery trucks, your signs or invoices. It is whatever creates the impression of your business. Though you or your staff may have become complacent with a fingerprinted window on the door, a rusty truck exterior, a static filled radio station on the telephone line or paint peeling on a sign, your customer will not be impressed. Every part of your operation must be inviting to your customers. They are your guests, so clean up your "front door," because company is coming.
Make sure your business is easily accessible. Ask your employees to compare your customer service access, to other businesses they like to do business with. If your location is difficult to find, make sure the directions employees give out (in writing or verbally) are standardized and as easy as possible to follow. Post your hours of operation clearly on the facility, on business cards, on receipts, or wherever a customer can most easily locate them. Be sure recorded telephone messages are clear, updated, and as informative as possible; most-often-asked questions can be left on off-hours messages to help the customer reach you (hours of operation, emergency numbers, new product information, business announcements.) When you make it easy for your customer to reach you to do business with, they will.
Your customer is a treasured guest in your business, with specific expectations and needs. You must present a polished impression and meet those needs without fail. Make sure you know what they are experiencing as they try to do business with you. If it is easy and leaves a positive impression, you will have created a lasting, positive impression. And they will be back.