Are YOU Sending Your Customers to the Competition?
Have you ever called a business at an off hour wanting to check their hours of operation or get their address or even to leave a message for your sales person only to have it ring and ring and ring? Yes, in the information age, in the era of total connectivity, they don’t even have a voicemail. Amazing and a surefire way to make you think twice about doing business with them.
In this age of text marketing, instant messaging, and social networking, not providing a basic way for customers to get in touch even when you aren’t available is a recipe for failure.
Here are 5 more you want to avoid.
#1 Not Having a Website
I know this sounds like we are back to ABC’s but honestly I run across business owners (or should I say business imposters) who don’t have even a simple web page all the time. This is actually more important than having a business card today. It is all about being easy to be found and online is the marketplace whatever business you are in. Whether you are a retailer, a service provider (designer, coach, dentist, doctor, attorney, CPA) you must have an online presence so that when your name at least is googled, you show up! (And I’m not even going to dive into SEO, adsense and the many ways to get found better and faster, this is the least of what you need to do.)
#2 Not Being Listed on Google Maps (It’s Free!)
Okay so you are going to argue that you don’t have customers come to your place of business (your home office). Neither do I, but I do have a Google Maps listing as it allows me to show up at the top of the Google page (these listings are the first to show following sponsored ads.) While the Post Office doesn’t allow you to call their boxes a suite, the UPS store and other private services do. Go get one. It will protect your security online and allow you a mapable presence in whatever city or town you want to be associated with. (Yes, if there is one nearby or in another state that you want to leverage for status, you can do it.)
#3 Not Including Your Full Contact Online
This is truly a personal pet peeve of mine. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to contact someone from their website only to be forced through a form and not allowed the option of a direct email, a phone contact, or a mailing address. I am not suggesting this be your direct cell line, you can certainly take advantage of an answer service or your office line. And your mailing address can be a suite address, which gives more credibility than just a PO Box. Please make it easy for prospects not only to find you but to reach you once they do.
#4 Not Leveraging Online Testimonials
With so many online services at the ready to take complaints, it only makes sense that you combat this by allowing your customers an easy way to share compliments about their experience. I’ve had bed and breakfasts I’ve stayed at invite me to share my happy experience at the travel site Tripit.com. Whether you send customers to an industry consumer site or to your own to leave their comments, make it easy and be creative in finding ways to encourage them to do so.
#5 Not Capturing Prospect Data for Follow Up
It always amazes me when I learn that either an online business or an offline (brick and mortar) business isn’t capturing leads. A lead is anyone who enters your store or website. You want to capture them as it often takes multiple touches today to garner a sale. You have to build the relationship before the sale comes.
Online this is achieved with a squeeze page or an opt-in box and the promise of regular tips, a special report answering their burning question, or some other value content. Offline this can be easily accomplished with a simply glass fishbowl with an index card on the face of it inviting them to leave their card to receive notices of sales, special events, latest arrivals and more. (You never want to say subscribe to my newsletter, it needs to be special and of value and there are a lot of newsletters that aren’t so people are cautious.)
By eliminating these five failures, you will put yourself back on track to profitable results, meaningful relationships, and lifetime demand. You deserve a business that serves the whole of your life, not swallows you whole. Implementing simple steps like these will move your business from being a secret to being visible, credible and ultimately profitable.