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I decided to make this blog post the first in a three-part series on continuity within your small business or start-up. Let’s tackle the continuity of operations first. There’s one maxim that every business needs to know when they begin to go about the business of, well, doing business:

People know your company better than you do.

I know, that sounds counterintuitive given the number of hours–blood, sweat, and tears–that you’ve put into your small business or start-up. But let me explain why people know your company best. They see the results of the small decisions you make day-to-day. You, on the other hand, are trying to look at the big picture. You’re trying to paint in bold strokes on a large canvas. Your customer isn’t. This is evident in the cheaper, part-time call center employees that you’ve hired instead of the full-time employees who know more about your company, making them more informed customer service representatives. Or maybe your website has lower quality graphics than competing sites, or maybe your checkout process even needs a second look. If you’re a high end firm, you’re especially culpable. You have to make sure that everything fits: from the largest to the smallest detail. Because your customer will know if your phones aren’t being answered promptly or professionally. They’ll know if the items you send to them in the mail are timely without being a waste of their time. They expect you to be on the ball because they’re paying you good money to back up that expectation. As I stated in a previous post, you have to set goals with the beginning and the end in sight–especially when your brand is being judged by your customers. To a customer, fast phone service by intelligent people who care and are empowered to solve a customer’s problems is key. That might be the first experience your customer has with your brand. Make it a good one. But the end product is just as important. You want to make sure that a customer leaves your website having been able to find what they need. (How many times has a checkout clerk asked you, “Did you find everything you need today?”) You want to make sure that billing and other final impressions are excellent. And service doesn’t end at billing. Not for your customer. Granted the front and back end of your business’ services can vary based on the service or product you provide, but the continuity of operations is always the same: your small business or start-up should provide a positive experience for your customer from start to finish. Can you think of ways to improve the continuity of your business’ operations? How can you try to view your business through the eyes of your customer?

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