Make it easy for your customers

This may be the most important question you consider this month (or year) – how easy are you to do business with? Be honest, the answer may surprise you. MICHEL HOGAN

Michel Hogan

 By Michel Hogan

I was talking to a colleague in the US this past week who recently joined a footwear company as COO. He made the comment that in lots of ways they certainly don’t make it easy for people to do business with them.

Between warehousing and fulfillment, offshore manufacturers, distributor relationships, customer records – there are any number of places that your business decisions can encourage or discourage potential customers.

This got me thinking about all the ways we make things easy and hard for others to do business with us, and yes it can become a cultural thing with internal needs and viewpoint obscuring how it is to work with you.

This doesn’t mean that you should be open to all comers no matter what, however for the people you do want to have as customers, removing the barriers will help smooth the path.

Do you have one view of your customers so you aren’t constantly asking them the same questions (like what their contact information is or how they like to pay)?

For service providers, do you have multiple levels of proposals, contracts and approvals to go throught before someone can start to work with you?

Are you consistent in the ways you communicate with your different constituencies? Or are you friendly sometimes and officious at others? Real estate agents and banks are great at this, being friendly one minute and threatening the next.

Do you present mixed messages – a great example was on my recent trip to US, I wanted to recharge my prepaid mobile SIM card. I went online and even though on their web site they give the option for other countries the site wouldn’t accept my transaction. A 10 minute phone call later, I discovered that they don’t accept international credit cards. They not only made it hard to do business with them, they made it impossible!

Do you set expectations and then meet them, every time? A copywriter friend of mine who works with designers is constantly frustrated by the somewhat elastic relationship they have with the commitments they make.

Do your backend systems bleed over and affect your customers? For example, warehousing and fulfillment that don’t track properly to demand and leave your distributors short of product or with too much.

You get the idea. More often than not it is the mundane things like internal systems and manageing customer records that trip businesses up. I don’t think there has ever been a more important time to make yourself easy to do business with. This is just a starting list of things to consider. Look across your business and add your own…

See you next week!

 

Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.

 

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