That is the minimum acceptable availability time you should
Ever order anything on the internet after 10 o’clock at
night? Of course, you have.
Everyone has. Could you have gone out to the store at 11 o’clock at
night? Or bought that toy at midnight? People buy automobiles nowadays at 1am
and think nothing of it.
Ever try to call someone five minutes after they close, or
call too early in the AM before they open? What happened? Probably something
between disappointing and maddening.
Do you think your customers are any different?
questions all the time. Customers need service all the time. Customers want to buy something all the
And they will buy from the source that is most available. Take
the bookstore model. It took Barnes and Noble almost two years to realize that
Amazon.com was not a joke. Since
then, they have spent the last ten years, and millions of dollars, trying to
catch up to a competitor they thought was a mere gnat when they began.
That gnat has now grown into a swarm of locusts that
descends on Barnes and Noble’s sales like a plague.
Yes, Barnes and Noble is big. Their bookstores are the best
in the world. But their inability to recognize that customers would buy books
at midnight, cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.
That is the minimum
acceptable availability time.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure that you are
ready when your customers need you, and will ensure that you are ready when
your customer wants to give you money.
- Answer your phone with a live, friendly, human being 24.7.365. Yes it costs a little more, but the phrase, “In order to serve you better, please select from the following seven options” is not only an annoyance to every customer that calls, but it is also a bald-faced lie.
- Make your web site “service friendly”. Can your customers find service answers on your website?
- Make your website “question friendly”. Everyone has “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) but it seems as though those questions are never the questions I want answers to. Just how interactive is your questioning capability?
- Make your website “sales friendly”. Can your customer place an order? Is your e-commerce user-friendly? Can your customer buy in one click?
- Make your website “information friendly”.
- Create automatic or rapid responses to all online and email inquiries. Your customers expect immediate. We all expect immediate.
- Make yourself available before and after hours. Give customers your cell phone. Give customers your email address. Give them more ways to buy and make it easy for them to spend their money with you.
On the surface, these things don’t look hard to do. So then
why does not everyone do them? Global mystery.
Take the availability test:
Go to your competition’s website. Try to buy something at midnight. Try to schedule a call. Try to ask a question or contact someone by email. Now go to your own site and do the same thing.
Did you win? Or will the next person who visits both websites go do business with your competition?
satisfied or loyal customers. Availability trumps price.
That is the minimum acceptable availability time.
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