Efficiency is about more than just a flashy website. It’s the time it takes new clients or customers to get where they need to go.
How easy is it to do business with you?
Sound like a silly question? You’re a nice person…you love what you do. If you’re nice to people you’re easy to do business with, right? But are you losing customers or clients, or not getting the referrals you thought you would? It might be time to take a step back and review the processes of your business, how it looks to your customer and how easy it is for people to work with you.
Think about it…no matter what industry you’re in, people like things to be as easy as possible. Take Amazon for example; they’ve made it as easy as a 1-click check out. And why does everyone love the ease of Amazon? Easy to purchase, easy to return, easy to find what you need, and get reviews on products and answers to questions…all in one place, all in one neat little package.
Now, take a look at your business. Sit down for a few minutes and see how you would answer these questions:
- Do you have processes for your daily workflow?
- Is it easy for people to connect with you?
- Is it easy for people to find you?
- Are you presenting yourself and your company in a professional manner?
What prompted me to write this was an experience I had at a local Karate Studio when I was trying to sign my son up for a class. We had received a gift card to this location, and it stated you had to have an appointment for the first lesson. Like most of us, I started with the internet. The website was very slow loading. So slow in fact I looked up several other things I was looking for while I was waiting for the page to load. I couldn’t find where to schedule an appointment so I tried calling…no one answered the phone…ever. And you weren’t able to leave a message; the recording directed you back to the slow-loading website.
So I went to Option 2. I sent an email to set up my first appointment. I had to copy and paste the email address since there was no direct link on the site. When I received the response back, they were coming from someone’s phone with no name or information attached, which meant I never knew who I was talking to and kept getting short, misspelled responses. *TIP: If you’re using your phone for business, create a signature so people know who they’re talking to.
After 6 emails back and forth I finally found a time to visit the studio from the mystery writer. The young man who was working had no idea who I was and said: “Oh, you must have talked to the owner”. He handed us a dogi and we were “ready to go”. No information was taken, no waiver, nothing. I asked what he needed from me and he said “nothing”.
How do you not collect information on your students and their parents? How are you keeping them informed, offering discounts, information, etc.? What if something happened while we were there? Much as you would use analytics in your digital marketing efforts…you can do the same thing with a brick-and-mortar location. How do they know who’s coming to class or where they came from? You don’t have to wear a suit and tie to be professional…it’s about being courteous and informative and protecting your customer as well as yourself in the event something happens. To me, this was a classic example of zero customer service. In my opinion, this was a pretty poorly run operation. In this case, there are some simple things this business owner could take to really up their game:
- Take a look at your processes…and if you don’t have any, then it’s time to start putting some in place. Processes don’t have to be elaborate to start with, but there should be a series of events for other people to follow when the decision-makers aren’t available. An intake process should be in place and followed each time a new customer comes in. This is when you need to get the information out of your head and documented it.
- Make sure someone is checking your site for any updates that need to be installed. Slow loading sites can be a deal-breaker.
- If you receive several calls a day, you might want to look at a service like Ruby Receptionist which is a live answering & virtual receptionist service. They even have an app that allows you to keep track of call activity and messages.
- Have a “schedule a call” link so people can reach a live person to answer questions. If you don’t want to talk to people…you shouldn’t be in business. You don’t have to be constantly interrupted with calls either…just make sure someone can leave a message and set aside certain times of the day to return calls and/or call back those that scheduled a time to talk to you. You can use a free service like Calendly that will integrate with your calendar.
- Have a link on your website for people to contact you for more information. Just giving an email address isn’t very user-friendly. Include a link on your site that will automatically bring up an email message so they can get in touch with you.
It doesn’t matter if you run a small Karate Studio or an online business. The easier it is for people to find you and do business with you, the better your chances of success! Laura is the Founder of Elite Virtual Assistants, whose experienced virtual assistants can help you up your game!