A simple list of priorities can make an Internet business a successful Internet business. It is important for owners of Web-based businesses to remember that even though their business may be on the Web, they should not hide behind the Web.
Make customer service a priority. Remember the old retail adage: the customer is always right. If a customer complains, respond. It is tragic to see a “Contact Us” button on a Web site if the company isn’t consistent in responding to customers. If your Web site allows prospective clients and customers to send e-mail, make certain that a real person gets those emails, and that he or she responds. If your business can’t handle Web-based communication, put a phone number on your Web site. Make certain that someone answers the phone.
Be respectful of your opt-in database. Over the past 14 years, my company has collected hundreds of thousands of opt-in e-mail addresses. We do not sell, rent or trade our database. We send out newsletters periodically, but we don’t bombard people, and we told them what to expect when they opted-in. Web users are very wary of sharing their e-mail addresses because of the huge amount of junk that is sent.
Value your employees. Promote on-going learning and participation in industry-related groups. If your employees are up-to-the-minute on trends and topics, your business will be too. Treat your employees nicely. Encourage them to stay. Successful businesses usually have long relationships with their employees.
Don’t rely too much on social media. Social media has a place in a marketing and public relations effort, and it is fun, but it won’t ever replace good account executives and sales professionals. Social media should pique interest, inspire loyalty and create brand recognition. Don’t depend on it to grow your business and build your revenues.
Have real people answer the phone. Go back to the second priority above. If a client, customer or prospect is not happy, the call must be returned right away. Issues tend to get larger if you leave them unanswered. And when your client or customer is happy, a returned call will make them happier. Real people forge relationships and that builds loyalty.
Be flexible. The Internet changes daily. So should Internet businesses. Don’t let your business stagnate. Keep adapting. Keep learning. Network, brainstorm and stay nimble.