In our Small Business Management Course, you learn all about starting and managing a small business. One thing we don’t teach, however, is customer service. That’s because we think it’s a bit of a no-brainer. In fact, it’s often said that the golden rule of customer service is that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.
But what happens with your suppliers, when you’re technically the customer — does this give you free reign to be as demanding as you like? Or does it pay to be nice?
Kill ‘em with Kindness
There are a couple of reasons why this approach works best in business. First of all, it’s a lot harder to be mean to a really nice person — seriously, try it! Even when you’re asking a lot of someone, they’ll find it harder to decline your request if you’re nice about it.
That’s not to say that if you make an outrageous demand it won’t be swiftly turned down; nor does it mean you should take advantage of your suppliers’ better nature, either. But being nice certainly gets you further that being rude and demanding, particularly when you’re looking for a favour.
What Value Do They Bring?
This is particularly important for small businesses that often rely on other small businesses or sole traders to provide important services to them. If you treat your suppliers well, they’ll be more inclined to work for you — and do good work too.
Very often it’s the little things that count most. Paying invoices on time, for the cash-strapped sole trader, is usually greatly appreciated; even just sending them an email, thanking them for their hard work can make all the difference, especially if you employ a lot of remote workers.
Develop A Relationship
In fact, if you do happen to work with a number of remote workers, it’s sometimes pretty easy to forget that there’s a person at the other end of your emails. Rather than simply sending through your requests and nothing else, engage with that person instead.
Again, people are much more willing to work with people they know and like, so putting a little effort into your emails can certainly go a long way to forging a good working relationship with your graphic designer, even if they do live in Peru.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
If for no other reason than self-preservation, being nice and putting good vibes out into the universe can at least guarantee that you won’t have to sleep with one eye open for fear of reprisals from that supplier you gave a severe dressing down once (you have seen ‘Kill Bill’, right?).
So yes, we do think that you should be nice in business. It may be a dog-eat-dog world out there, but it need not be a business-eat-business one. Just remember that there is a real person behind every faceless email address — so be nice! Learn more about the many facets of running a small business by checking out our Small Business Management Course.