While it’s already two weeks into the New Year, business owners, you need to add a few more things to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Before you start grumbling, thinking that this is just another dreadful task, and moving your mouse over to that little red “X” on the top right (or left) corner, STOP! These additional resolutions will help your business BE a better business.
No client of yours wants to regret choosing you for a job, so make sure you avoid the following three online business misconducts that will cost you your credibility!
Lack of Ethical Boundaries
So many executives and other decision-making individuals from companies fall into this trap of overstepping ethical boundaries. Sometimes they justify their actions by hoping that no one will research the false product claims or how they got their prices so low. Other times dollar signs talk more to them than morals. No company thinks they’ll be on the news for one of their hush-hush unethical actions.
And you don’t want to be on the news either unless it’s for something pleasant. So what are some ethical problems that many businesses run into that you can avoid?
Publishing ads that stretch the truth
You’ve probably seen one of those ads on TV that claim a product is “all natural” or “scientifically proven to be [claim]” only to see on national news months or years later that, oops, that was all fake. Companies like Nutella and Sketchers have had to settle for millions for false claims in advertisements for their products. Are millions of dollars now really worth losing even more later?
Prevent jumping on the false claim bandwagon by double checking your ads, your claims, your certification stickers/tags, and more. Sometimes even the certifications for your company or products might not be what you think they are, so dive deeper into all the claims for your business and products. Enlist in the help of a copy editor or fact checker if your hands are tied with other work. Just remember that if you or your copywriter create or come across an advertisement or claim that seems to stretch the truth so much that you could get sued or receive hundreds or thousands of complaints from customers, most likely you’ll need to scrap that advertisement or claim. A little more grunt work before pushing an advertisement or claim in front of millions of people could save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Being transparent and credible > false claims potentially causing problems to customers, lawyer fees, settlements, etc.
Pushing unwanted items in your customers’ shopping carts
No one likes their products to randomly disappear from their shopping carts. Even more so, customers HATE it when products randomly appear in their shopping carts. So if you’re a business owner and you’re trying to upsell products online by trying to sneak in a $5 or $10 product that you think they would like (and think they wouldn’t notice you added), nice try.
Instead, provide incentives to customers to buy more products from you by using promotions, coupons, and a great online experience. Again, a smooth, enjoyable customer experience > gaining a few dollars here and there for them to only be returned or disputed later.
Displaying questionable ethics
Nike’s unsafe working conditions, Wal-Mart’s poverty wages, Coca-Cola’s labor violations, the list goes on and on about big-time companies’ questionable standards and ethics. The sad thing is that some companies justify dollar signs for the lack of ethical virtues. Anyone remember back in 2007 when the software company that brought you Grand Theft Auto was “fined more than $10 million by state and federal agencies for accounting issues”? Bypassing ethical standards usually leads to fines, boycotts, public humiliation or degrading, and a drop in customers. And that can break even a well-to-do company (Remember Enron?).
One way to help stop your company from even getting close to violating ethical standards is to have your own standards – and stick to them. Creating a code of ethics for your company will help keep you and your business on track to an ethically-focused company. Always question something that doesn’t seem right and speak up. Remember, ethical actions > dollar signs.
Lack of Customer Focus on Social Media
Great, you’re on social media, but what are you really posting out there? Are you posting content that is interesting to you but only interesting to a handful of your audience? Or maybe social media just seems like a chore to you. All of these people are tweeting and commenting, but, man, there’s not enough time in the day to answer all these people! So you think to yourself, “Let’s just ignore everyone and continue on with posting whatever I like whenever I have time.”
If one of those scenarios sounds like your outlook on your social media experience, I hate to break it to you, but you’re losing your customers and online credibility. The customers are following you for a reason. And if you’re not focusing on them, they’ll, well, leave.
Before you start randomly posting a little bit of every topic out there, study your audience first. Once you get a hang of your demographics and your customers’ wants and needs on social media, start posting and engaging with your followers. You want to become an expert in your industry, and social media is a great way to prove how much you know!
Lack of Acknowledgement to Criticism
If you’ve ever gone on review sites like Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, or Google Reviews, you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly commentary about businesses. For potential customers and current customers who provided constructive criticism or their frustrations, not only are they looking for a way to warn (or deter) others about the company but also to see what the company has or will do to fix an inconvenience or issue. So don’t be that company that sits there, does nothing, and downright ignores these problems.
Companies just responding and letting the customer know that they acknowledge the situation is better than not saying anything about problems and situations at your company. So if you’re not already talking to your customers on review sites, take an hour each week to see what your customers are saying about you. Updating your customers on what you’re trying or going to do to fix current issues will show customers that you’re attempting to fix something. And sometimes that means getting a return customer rather than a one-time customer. +1 for your integrity!
Now that we’ve talked about the three major ways we think businesses lose credibility online, let us know a situation where a company lost credibility to you or how you fixed your own company’s credibility online. And as always, drop us a line on Twitter using @BayLeafDigital.