By Bill Doran
We live in an era where there are so many ways to communicate with each other. It can be quite daunting. Often, people feel it is less intrusive to text or send a message in a chat rather than to pick up the phone and talk. Knowing what to do can be a point of confusion.
What do we do?
An easy answer is to follow the customer’s lead. But is it really that simple?
Let us start with an example of a recent business call that my wife made. She is a professional with specialty training and called one of her suppliers. A new person answered the phone. My wife identified herself and her business and then indicated that she had one question regarding ordering a product. The person on the other end of the phone told my wife to email her, and they would send an information package out on their products.
What was wrong with this?
- Firstly, my wife phoned as she wanted to speak to a person.
- Next, the impression was given that they did not have time to talk to her, nor did they have the interest.
- My wife had one question about ordering. She is a professional in the field and did not need nor want the entire package.
- And there is more….
So, what happened? Nothing! No email was sent, and no product was ordered. WOW, what a lost opportunity.
Dealing with a person. Now, let us look at other business mistakes that can be made when people go to a retail store.
- This one is my favourite to dislike. I drive across town, park my car and go into a store to make a purchase. The person working at the store does not have time for me; they are on the phone. Should I wait or go elsewhere? Do they prefer to deal with phone calls? If so, why do they have a retail
- Once again, you drive to a store and go in to ask for more information on a product. The person tells you there is more information on the website. Another twist on this is that many stores have a QR code that you can scan to get more information on their products. Do they not want to be an expert for their customer? Do they not realize that while I am looking at the product on the internet, I am also presented with many other options for purchasing the same item? And often, I can get it for less money on places like Amazon.
Returning the call or email. I recently completed a three-month journey to solve an outstanding item with a supplier. Remember, our suppliers are not only there for equipment but are also for training needs, local utilities and more. In this case, it was a training agency on behalf of a student of mine. During this three-month journey, so many times, my phone calls and emails were not returned—not one of them. In fact, their email says to call if you need more immediate assistance, and the voicemail says to email if you need more immediate assistance. Wow, it REALLY does. It was not until one of the students got involved directly with the supplier, a training agency, that an email was returned, and it was not to me. I only received the email because I asked the student to cc me on their email. When the response was a reply all, I was at last included in the conversation. At that time, I could quickly provide the information to solve three open items, and all was made well. Think about how you would feel if you were ignored. Guess what? Your customer feels the same.
What methods are there to communicate with customers?
- In person at a retail store
- Trade shows
- Live Chats
- And the list goes on…
Take the time to see how your customers communicate with you and your competition. Then, decide what tools you need to offer these people. You do not need to provide everything, but you do need to offer the correct tools.
In addition, keep it simple. If they call you, talk to them. If they email you, answer them. If they have a website inquiry and they ask you to get back to them in a certain way, do so in the way they ask. Remember, we are in business to sell courses, equipment, service and more. Make sure you do so!
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