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Internal Operations: Pristine Branding, Poor Business Practices

Internal operations are often overlooked because many small businesses rush toward their external branding versus the grunt work of backend setups. Most online shoppers have endured at least one experience where the packaging didn’t match the product.

In this encounter, the service you received did not match your perception of the brand. Their stunning content and follower count heavily influenced your decision to buy. Yet, your reward for becoming a customer was received with nonresponsiveness, misleading shipping information, and rude customer service representatives. In this post, we’ll unpack the importance of matching internal operations with your external business branding.

Everything that Glitters

Glitter gets attention—even the tiniest speck can catch your eye. However, too much glitter becomes cumbersome. Spilling a bottle of glitter is no fun to clean up, as it’s often more of a headache than a marvel. While perhaps “pretty,” the shining pile of mess will take a while to clean, and you’ll likely have sparkling remnants in undesired places. So it goes when a brand seems in tip-top shape on the outside only to reveal a jungle of disorganization and poor customer experiences.

Your brand tells people what you’re about. Your brand identity is the set of attributes that define who you are, what you do, what you stand for, and how you communicate. It’s the first impression of your business. 

The problem with lackluster internal operations is that they promote a false identity to current and potential customers. A business that brands itself with exceptional customer care experiences and quick, seamless shipping options should provide exactly that. Customers shouldn’t discover a lesser side of the brand after they purchase. 

If it glitters, make sure your customers are getting gold.

Mismatched representation

Let’s discuss a few real-time examples of when mismatched representation comes into play. 

Inventory Management

Promoting products that are never in stock is an operations problem. Someone down the line needs to communicate with team members about the inventory. Many companies today require real-time visibility into their inventory, but only some manage it. This is partly due to manual inventory management or inefficient warehouse and inventory management systems. inventory is no longer an annual job. It’s a weekly, possibly daily task. You need to know, at any given time, exactly what amount of inventory you have.

Communication

Poor communication is an automatic red flag for internal operations. There are several varying opinions on ways to communicate more efficiently. Two of them include daily check-ins and leveraging technology.

Morning meetings are an excellent way to get quick updates from your team while pinpointing everyone’s workload. Technology such as Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams boosts productivity in communication because it makes connecting with critical players easier. Updates on inventory, content creation, budgets, and more can be a click or chat away with these platforms. 

Packaging

Keep reading if you’ve ever received a product that didn’t match its advertising. This is a quality control issue. Small business owners without teams are likely promoting and packaging products themselves– not ideal, but often necessary in the startup phase. Because small business entrepreneurs are known to have full plates, it’s easy (and inevitable) for other seemingly smaller aspects of the business to fall through the cracks.

Sales and advertising could be a strength, but quality control could be lacking, especially when strapped for time. On the customer side, this experience may mean witnessing an engaging, high-energy livestream that inspired a customer to try your products, only to receive a generic box with the wrong order, its contents thrown together, and no order receipts inside or emailed. Though the order was wrong the first time, the products were decent. Hence, the customer ordered again only to have the same packaging experience. This is an operations red flag.

Customer Care Representatives

Nothing turns people away from businesses faster than bad customer service. Every aspect of a company reflects its owner, from the smallest detail to the grandest gesture. Daily motivational live streams can boost brand awareness, but they will not address an inbox full of complaints to unresponsive customer care reps. When people buy, they want to be communicated with about their purchase. 

Organizations spend millions on ad campaigns and social media, without ever letting their employees speak to customers directly. That’s a huge problem, especially in delivery. Not letting employees speak to customers (or customers to employees) creates a break in communication. It prevents your brand from listening to your customers.

If your brand isn’t listening, it’s not adequately serving.

Outdated information gathering

In 2024, it’d be a little offputting for talent agencies to request DVD copies of auditions. Indeed, businesses operate daily with outdated forms, processes, and systems, but they no longer provide the same efficiency as years prior.

A company with a fresh social media presence to generate leads but internally works through archaic internal practices such as paper trail-only files (meaning a significant amount of manual labor is being done when it doesn’t have to be), fax-only document returns, unfillable forms or even using dated language such as “secretary” or “homemaker” contributes to a mismatched brand representation. 

It is estimated that 90% of businesses are held back in terms of growth and enhanced efficiency due to old technology. Inefficiency can eat up as much as 30% of your company’s revenue every year. While this includes both IT-related and non-IT-related functions, it shows just how much slow processes or non-value-added tasks are costing your business.

Connecting the Dots

How to improve internal business operations

A solid backend (back office) makes a brand stronger. It is firing on all cylinders, in top form in front and behind the scenes. Evaluating current processes and services is the first step in matching internal operations with external branding. An honest but harsh reality is to begin with customer complaints. Customer pain points should drive the improvement process. Suppose your top complaints have to do with email correspondence and misplaced orders. In that case, you know those will be priority items to rectify.

After discovering what’s not working behind the scenes, brainstorm solutions to improve. Think of this as a trial run period. Organize an office think tank to create as many ideas and solutions as possible to the pain points identified during the evaluation. Decide then and there on your best ideas to lead into an implementation phase. Don’t be surprised if it takes several cycles of ideas and implementation before settling on the best way forward. Consider a trial period within the implementing process to catch any unforeseen hiccups early.  

Not sure if you really need backoffice help? Here are five signs a crash and burn is underway:

Don’t neglect your back office needs for the more glamorous branding tasks. Prioritize the data clean-ups, take inventory, and declutter the inbox. Do what’s necessary to dissolve poor business practices and set your company up for longevity from every angle. 

For more information on how SHS can support your business needs, schedule a consultation HERE.