It’s mind-boggling to me that so many companies still don’t understand the importance of making it easy for their customers to buy from them. In fact, I outlined two specific examples of customer service failure in Are you easy to work with? – a lesson in client responsiveness just less than a year and a half ago. Well I’m back again today with yet another stellar example of how to push revenue out the door and directly to your competitors.
Just recently, I was in the market for solid wood Canadian-made furniture, specifically six pieces for the bedroom. Since wandering from store to store is not my idea of a good time, my husband and I pored through manufacturer’s catalogues, both print and online, for months, looking for ideas and styles that caught our attention (and that were within our budget). A few weeks ago, we narrowed our interest down to three specific furniture lines. Despite the fact that I adore the convenience of online shopping, I knew that it was now time to look at them “in person” before we made the final purchase decision. So I fired off emails to the manufacturers (using the contact info on their websites, no less) asking them if there were any dealers in my area who had the specific lines in their showrooms. Two manufacturers wrote back to me within 24 hours, letting me know the names of stores that carried not only the lines I was interested in, but also information about several of their other products. One of them even let me know that they’d let a local store in the area know of my interest, and the next day, someone from the local store called me to follow up to see if I had any questions. The third company, well, I never heard from them.
Two weeks later, I handed my credit card to one of the local dealers (for the two brands who’d bothered to respond to my query) for a purchase in the low five-figures. The first two companies recognized me as an opportunity … a potential customer who had not only researched their product but was also interested enough to ask very specific questions. Their client responsiveness significantly increased the likelihood that my query would turn into revenue … which it did, at least for one of them. The third company couldn’t be bothered. And they pushed my purchase (and their revenue) to their competition. Silly company!
It doesn’t matter whether you provide a product or a service, your success is directly driven by your responsiveness to your customers (potential or not). And by the way, this statement is just as true if you have internal clients. So … how responsive are you to your clients? Do you make them jump through hoops in order to do business with you? Or do you make it easy? What have you observed or experienced that exemplifies the former or the latter? Do tell.
P.S. Sahara Furniture, you messed up! Not only did you miss out on a revenue opportunity, but you also sent me straight to your competition. All because you didn’t follow through on an email that was sent to an address you provided on your website!