Make It Easy for Customers
to do Business With You
By Laurie Brown
was thrilled. She finally got a brand new automated phone system for
her business. She purchased the system to give her employees more time
for their work. It seemed
to her that too much of their time was taken up transferring calls to
the “right” person and repeatedly giving out information about
their hours or location. The automated system would allow them to
become truly productive.
great, doesn’t it? Wrong. It was a nightmare. Her customers, who
were used to speaking to a human, now had to maneuver a difficult,
confusing and sometimes truly impossible system. Some of her customers
dealt with the new system, but silently hated it. Some of them
complained. Others just gave up and went elsewhere. The real problem
was that Barbara lost track of what really mattered. She forgot that
her customers were not in the way of her business - they were her
business. In her effort to make it easier for her employees, she
inadvertently made it more difficult for her customers to do business
marketplace with so many choices, it is essential for you to do
everything possible to make it easy for your customers to do business
with you, any difficulty or obstacle that hinders or frustrates them
may make them run away from you without you ever having a chance to
“make things right.” So what can you do to encourage your
customers to remain your customers and not drive them to your
Make it easy to contact your company: Have your phone number clearly
displayed on everything: all printed and electronic media, receipts,
your email signature line, on magnets, notepads and anything else your
customers may keep. List your phone information in online directories,
yellow pages, etc.
things that make contacting your company easy are a toll free number
to make it affordable for your customers to contact you at any time,
if you use phone words, include both the spelling and the numeric
Make it easy to talk to a human: Don’t make your customers search
for a method to talk to a living, breathing person.
If you have an automated phone system, it can be extremely
frustrating and impossible to get in touch with a human being.
Consider reducing the number of prompts in your system. One set
of prompts is the limit for most people’s patience and goodwill.
If you absolutely, positively must have more than one set of
prompts, make sure to offer your customers the option of speaking to
an operator in the first and subsequent series of prompts.
Make it easy for your customer to reach the person they need: Have
employees take ownership of every call. If they can answer a question
without transferring, have them go ahead and answer. If the caller
needs to talk to someone else in the company, have the person who has
answered the call tell the customer that they are going to be
transferred, making sure they have given the caller the correct number
in the event the caller gets disconnected or “lost” in the system.
If at all possible, try to get a system that allows your employees to
stay on the phone with the customer until the transfer is made.
As in any
other business situation, have the employee introduce the caller to
the person they are being transferred to. The employee should provide
a brief recap of the customer’s needs and or questions before
politely saying goodbye to the customer.
Make it easy to be on hold: 30 seconds doesn’t sound so bad, does
it? Phone time is different than regular time. When you are waiting
for someone to help you, 30 seconds can seem like an eternity. If your
people have to place a caller on hold, make sure that they check back
every 30 seconds to update the customer and/or give them the option of
being called back. Don’t ask the customer to call back, instead
offer to call them back. Calling back your customer is a way of
acknowledging that you know their time is important and you appreciate
utilize music for the on hold time, make sure that it is consistent
with the image of your business. A better idea is to play information
tapes that tell your customer about your business or give them some
ideas to improve their life or business.
Make it easy to have a voice mail returned: If a customer leaves a
voice mail message, they expect to get a call back quickly.
Have your employees change their voice mail message each day.
If they need to be out of the office, or if they are unable to return
messages that day, their message should not only indicate that, but
should also have the number or extension of a person who could be
(often) we are unaware of just how difficult and frustrating it can be
to talk to a human at our own business. If you think you have an easy
system, try it out yourself. Have friends and family members try it.
Ask your employees to give it a try. Have them tell you what the
easiest part of their experience was, as well as which parts were
frustrating. Then fix the problems immediately. Make it as easy as
possible for your customers to do business with you.
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