Today I’ve got a bit of a rant to share with you, and there’s a lesson at the end.
My son is graduating high school this month. Since his father and I graduated from the same high school, we thought it would be nice for our son to wear his father’s gown. But, my husband no longer has his cap.
The school gave me the website and phone number for the company through which all the caps and gowns are ordered. Since I needed to order quickly to have the cap here in time for graduation, I decided to go to the website to place my order. But, on the website they only offered caps and gowns as a package, not separately.
So, I tried giving the company a call. Instead of getting a friendly, helpful person on the phone, I got their answering service with a recorded message, telling me to leave a message and someone would get back to me within 24-48 hours. Then, the message said that if I needed faster service, to send an email.
To cover my bases I left a message with the answering service, and then I sent an email. I received an email back, which was form email telling me to call the office. Huh????
The following day a lady from the office called. She told me that yes, I could order the cap without the gown (why wasn’t this on their website in the first place???), and that she could take my information over the phone. I gave her my name, mailing address and credit card number. Then, she told me that she would not be able to process the credit card (what???) – her supervisor would have to do that and he was out of the office. She would have him call me when he returned.
A few hours later the supervisor called, but I was not available to take his call. He left a message with a phone number for me to call him back. But, do you think that phone number would get me to him personally? No! It was the same office phone number that told me to leave a message and someone would contact me within 24-48 hours!
There’s a big lesson in this story for all business owners, but it especially applies to booklet publishing because so many of us publishing booklets are dealing with busy executives and business people. Even if you’re selling booklets to individuals this lesson applies!
So, here it is.
Number one. Make sure you have everything you offer on your website and make sure it’s easy to find and easy to place an order. Using Paypal is a good idea too, because people buying from a website for the first time often feel safer using Paypal than giving their credit card information over the website.
Number two. If you provide a phone number for people to call, make sure they get a real person on the line. If it is after business hours and you have an answering service that provides a recorded message be sure to let them know when they will be able to reach a live person, and that if they leave a message they will be contacted first thing the following day that you are open for business. Then make good on your promise.
Number three. If people do talk with a live person, whether you or someone else within your company, make sure that person is able to help them and/or complete their order.
Number four. If you provide a call back number for someone regarding an order they want to place, make sure they get you or another real person on the line so they can place that order!
This is all good business practice. It reassures the customer that they are doing business with a reputable company that knows what they are doing – and a company that cares about it’s customers. These are the basics in the business world – the foundation. Lose your foundation and your business will fall.
This company I have been trying to deal with obviously doesn’t care and thinks they are too big to go up in smoke because they serve (for lack of a better word) school districts in several states.
And there’s a fifth lesson in that. If you think you’re too big to fall, too important to be replaced, think again! Remember the old saying – the bigger they are the harder they fall!
One last thing. The way that company is doing business might have been acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s (at least the answering service part, not the rest of it). But, good business is no longer done that way. With the internet, people expect more. They expect to be able to place an order online and if they can’t, they expect immediate service by phone. Anything else is substandard and will downgrade the customer experience, possibly making them angry, which can lead to bad feedback online for your business.
As for me, I’m about to look into getting a cap elsewhere for my son so I can have the satisfaction of telling that company (on their recording of course!) to CANCEL MY ORDER!
To your riches!
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