Thursday, August 23, 2007

Make it Easy!

A few weeks ago I was reminded that to jazz up the sales of your business, one has to make it easy to do business with you. You have to make buying from your company a breeze.

It all started at an artisan's gallery in Plano, Texas where I found a wall hanging that would be perfect for my entry way wall in my house. The only problem was I wasn't sure if the dimensions would work for my wall and Plano was a 1-hour drive from my house. The manager of the gallery gave me a choice:

  1. I could buy it that day and save 20% or

  2. I could leave a credit card number and take it home for 24 hours to see if it worked in my house but could NOT have the 20% discount. (The 20% represented about $80 - which is substantial to me.)

That choice was just too hard to make! So I left the store without buying it. Didn't the gallery manager know that it would be best for me to take the wall hanging with me? She should have never let me leave the store without it. Once I got home I measured my wall and the wall hanging would have fit perfectly - but I was not up for another 1 hour drive back to Plano (2 hours round trip).

By giving me a choice the art gallery manager did not make this an easy purchase. Instead I fretted over it for a few days. And have since found another wall hanging for my entry way wall.

Here are some tips for making it easy for your customers to do business with you:

  • Return all phone calls the same day. Even if you have to tell someone you don't have their information or product yet - call them back the same day to let them know you received their message and tell them how you will proceed in helping them.

  • Answer your phone! Especially if you have a service business! If a potential client needs a service and gets voicemail, they will hang up and call someone else. Most new customers will not leave a voicemail.

  • Make it easy to get information about your company. Print your phone number, address and website on packaging, invoices, receipts, magnets, notepads, etc.
  • Empower your front line. Any one in your organization that has customer contact should have responsibility for helping your customers. Create an atmosphere where all employees are empowered. Even if the person who answers the phone cannot solve a customer's specific problem, he/she is responsible for making sure the proper person from your organization contacts that customer.

  • Don't give clients choices that could result in a loss for them. With my wall hanging scenario I could have lost $80 if I chose to have the option of returning it within 24 hours.
  • Be consistent. Many times a customer will have special requirements - like invoice dates, shipping schedules, etc. It is very tempting to want to work a "special deal" with a potentially large client - and there are times when this is appropriate. However, whenever possible, have consistency with how you do business. If a client needs an invoice by the 15th of the month and you invoice everyone on the 20th - resist the urge to have a special invoice date for the one client. This can set you up for failure later on.