Companies get into business with the best intentions and they have a goal to provide top-notch service. But then they miss out on the most simple opportunities to please customers/clients and prospective new business partners.
I have always tried to respond to requests and inquiries the same day. You would be shocked how slow some companies respond. In fact, I get a lot of new business from companies who are tired of being ignored and for slow service. I have heard from companies that many companies actually can take up to two weeks to make a simple text edit. We at RooSites many times respond within minutes. I don’t put things off, and it makes clients happy. This seems so elementary, right? Yes it does, and that is why I say responsive is the keyword you need to remember.
I recently had an inquiry from company looking for a specific service. I wrote to a guy I did business with many years ago to see if he be interested as he was perfect for the job. Unfortunately I didn’t hear back for days. I also left a voicemail and I texted him. It is beyond me why somebody looking to give you business would be ignored. These are the same people that complain to you how tough it is in business these days. I always find it intriguing that people aren’t responsive yet whine about a a lack of business.
Now this works both ways. Sometimes I’ll get a question from a prospective customer and reply right away. Sometimes I won’t hear back at all, even when I follow up. This too is not OK as this leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth and they’ll probably never hire you or refer you, which is so important in today’s business world.
I had a former colleague tell me that they thought I replied too quickly and I set a bar too high, and people would always expect such great service.
It is funny, when companies leave me which doesn’t happen too often thankfully they’re always expecting a new provider to give the same service.
I recently had a nonprofit decide move to a provider offering cheaper hosting and support services. They were just trying to save money and went with the cheapest possible hosting solution. I won’t name the company, but you know the one; They put 50,000 sites on the server and then people wonder why the performance is terrible and it crashes all the time. Well within three days of transferring, I went to the site to make sure it was up and running and what do you know, it had crashed. White screen of death. Now as it was a WordPress site, I know exactly what happened. Updates came in and they made them without backing up the site and it crashed. Now with my hosting solution, I back up every single day so even if this happens I can get the site back up and running within 30 seconds. As it has now been over five days, I know they’re having trouble. Sad, but cheap does not always equate to good! They do a good job of covering how price isn’t always the best deal in the Forbes Magazine article When The Lowest Price Is Not The Best Deal.
I would just like to reiterate that it can be very simple to please customers/clients. Respond quickly, NEVER ignore inquiries. When asked for your support, put yourself in the shoes of your customer, get the work down. This will help your company grow and succeed. Everyone likes to recommend companies that provide good service. Be That Company!!
1) How easy is it to purchase items on your website?
In this day and age your website needs to be easy to use, with a single page checkout. If not, if you’re still using an old-fashioned, convoluted multi-page checkout, then you are losing business. If it is hard for users to find what they are looking for, then you are losing business. A simple e-commerce interface will help these issues. And the cost of building this type of website has gone down a lot the last few years.
2) Are you still charging a lot for shipping?
We are living in an Amazon world, like it or not. Prime allows you to get many items the same day and most within a couple of days for free. So, if you are still charging a lot for shipping, you need to rethink this. I had one client whose prices were actually pretty good, but when you figure in the cost of UPS, the shipping cost ended up being more than the actual product cost. So I always ask the question, would you buy this? The answer is typically no unless it is an item not available anywhere else.
3) How are your prices?
Again, people are used to using Amazon as well as Google Shopping to compare prices. So I advise my clients to do some comparisons to see where they stand. If your prices are out of whack, there is no reason for someone to use you, other than loyalty or convenience. But with most things available same day on Amazon, the convenience factor really goes out the window; unless it’s something somebody needs right away. Prices of course are the main driver for people to shop online. I did an experiment with a client who was not having much success selling online. I told him to take a common item, and to price it basically as a loss leader. As the product appeared in Google shopping results, and his price beat everyone else, his sales increased dramatically. He had been kidding himself that his price was competitive, but in reality he was far from the best price. The one thing he learned was that the people who’ve bought his items came back and bought other things as well. Now obviously you can’t beat everybody’s prices for every item, but perhaps some of those are not things you should be trying to sell online. Especially of course if you have a brick-and-mortar store as well. I may stop into a local store for a bit more money, but I am not ordering online for more money.
Bottom line: you want to have an e-commerce website, be realistic in your expectations. I am sure when you shop, you are looking for the best price (including shipping) and of course convenience. It is the same with your customers. So, don’t kid yourself, set your prices fairly, make sure you can ship for reasonable cost (or even better, free), and of course make sure your website is easy to navigate and for people to find what they need. If so you should see a marked improvement in your online sales.
RooSites has been designing, developing and managing small business websites since 1996. For assistance, please contact us.