How to bring some authenticity to your business
“The more virtual our lives get, the more we hunger after something genuine. What people really want now is not just a product or a service, it’s an experience. An experience that is more honest and transparent… more authentic.” – James T Noble.
Sorry for the heavy start, but that quote is perfect for today’s blog. Strap yourselves in because we’re talking about business authenticity! In this modern world, it’s as if we exist online. We’re always connected to each other through our phones or the internet and that’s made things weirdly impersonal. We’re so plugged in all the time that we’re basically just one step away from The Matrix.
As the quote says above, it’s making people crave something genuine. People just want a real conversation. And that goes for your business too. Your website might have a fancy chatbot, which is always useful, but can your customers talk to a real human being if they need to? If all they want is a simple refund, can they pick up the phone and sort out the issue or do you make them jump through a million hoops like some sort of circus animal?
With all the bells and whistles, it’s easy to lose our humanity and authenticity. We think we’re providing a better service, but all that 86% of people want is an authentic touch. Yet only 52% of people trust businesses. Certain actions can make you look deceitful, whether you realise it or not. You might not be some moustache-twirling villain, but if you use a different address than where you’re based or you make it hard to talk to a human in customer service you look like kind of a Dick Dastardly type.
So how do you nail that feeling of authenticity? What’s the secret? The secret is… there isn’t really a secret. Authenticity is about being yourself and putting an honest, human face forward. Let’s look at some ways you can up your authenticity.
Authenticity is… following through on your words
This is why the expression “if you talk the talk you better walk the walk” exists. Because it’s all too easy to say how you’ll be better and treat everyone with respect. Everyone says that. No one’s out there saying “we’re going to treat you terribly”. So if you’re the kind of company who has a page of your website dedicated to your company values, you need to live and breathe them.
Customers are too smart these days. You can’t swindle them as easily as you could before the internet. They can whip out their phone and prove you wrong in five seconds if they wanted to. It’s empowered consumers and with such a bevvy of choices, they can be particular about where their business goes. So by being honest with yourself and your clients, you show you’re dedicated to following through on your words. And that you’re a business who can be trusted. Sometimes all people want is to be heard – speaking of which…
Authenticity is… being responsive
There’s definitely been a shift towards buying locally in recent years – something that’s been accelerated by the coronavirus. That’s because local businesses feel more real. You can see the people behind them and form a human connection. They’re authentic and they mean what they say. And – importantly – you’re usually dealing with the person in charge. That goes a long way in feeling heard.
Bring some of that to your business. Let clients know they can talk to you. Drop the IVR system – everyone hates that. Make getting in touch with a person as simple as picking up the phone. If you can’t be there for every call then no worries, just make sure someone answers their call. No one wants to talk to a robot; just ask anyone who’s had a bad match on Tinder.
It’s the personal element to your customer service that matters. It helps build an authentic reputation. And this extends to your social media, if you have any. Interact with people there. Be sincere, open, and approachable. Just make sure whoever’s in charge of the social media doesn’t start posting their controversial opinions on who they think should leave Great British Bake Off – you don’t want to start a war in the replies.
Authenticity is… being accountable
We all make mistakes. We’ve all burnt a pizza in the oven or forgotten to send an important email to a client. What matters is you’re professional enough to admit it and promise to do better (and following through on that promise).
“To err is human” as the classic phrase goes. Or, another classic one, “it happens” – except they don’t usually say “it”. If you can own up to your flaws, then you can work your way to being better. There’s a vulnerability to it that people like. You’re not an amorphous corporate blob – you’re a company full of human beings. Be accountable for your mistakes; plenty of people will appreciate that.
If there’s one quality that links all three points, it’s communication. Openly communicating with your customers – and definitely your staff – is an easy way to show your authentic self. People like people. People want to talk to people. Even the most introverted person in the world wants to talk to someone every now and then.
Your customers deserve to be heard and respected. And sometimes it can feel hard to always do that. When you’re juggling so much already, where can you find time to give them the attention you need. Because you might know you’re authentic but don’t know how to put that across to your audience. Believe it or not, that’s pretty easy too.
That’s why alldayPA exists: to take the weight off your shoulders. With our phone answering service, you can be there for your customers 24 hours a day. If they need to talk to a human about their problems, they can. You don’t need to find your own customer service team when you can just outsource to us. Get in touch today on 0345 056 8888.