Thursday, May 7, 2015

Serving customers

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     to help you better manage your small business.

     Recently I went online to make a purchase. I waded through all the pop-up ads and finally homed in on what I wanted to buy. I clicked on "Add to Shopping Cart" and nothing happened. Several attempts gave the same result.

     At the company's Help Desk, I left a message. Instructions there assured me that all messages would be answered within 48 hours. It's been over two weeks, and no word has come back from the company.

     I wonder if there's a live person somewhere wondering why the company is not receiving orders. Or has everything become so automated that only the machines notice a downturn in orders? Where have all the people gone? 

     Example: Gina operates a small company with four employees. The company sells brownies to customers all over the country. People place orders on Gina's website and she ships via UPS. To make certain that everything is working properly, Gina has an arrangement with a friend to place an order every other week. Tracking that order through the entire system assures Gina that the website is working, that there is no problem with ordering or with order fulfillment or with delivery. 

     Checking up on the internal workings of your operation is important. If you have a storefront, you can arrange to have a "mystery shopper" check out your business. If you're on the net, you should do no less.

     Example: Paul operates a small auto repair shop. There is a single lift and two employees. Paul is frequently tackling repairs himself when the phone rings. In the past, he let the caller go to voice mail. Then he realized he was losing business--callers assumed that the shop was closed, hung up, and called another shop. Paul hired a part timer who handled the phone in the mornings as well as a few additional duties. The phone is now answered by the second ring.

     Handling customers involves more than making a sale when they show up. Or when they click on your website. It means being there for them--at their convenience, not yours. 

     Today's technology can help you better operate your small business. But it's the customers and clients who ultimately spell success or failure. Make certain you are serving them.