It continues to be my favourite story about ‘medium myopia’ – that condition where business people turn a blind eye to the communications medium that they don’t prefer personally.
Usually at their business peril.
It goes something like this. An IT guru is called around to the local car dealership to try sort out an email problem.
While investigating, he finds literally dozens of unopened emails marked “Sales enquiry from website”.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
Puzzled, he asks said dealer why the emails hadn’t been opened.
“Email? Oh that’s a techie thing. I’m way too busy to waste my time dealing with emails”,” says the dealer.
The gold in your Inbox
I’m not sure how many tens of thousands of dollars of car sales this incident meant for the dealer, but suffice it to say, had the boss found out, they would not be impressed.
While this episode was some years ago now, it contains a valuable moral lesson and one that is probably more pertinent in today’s multimedia environment.
That moral is: if you don’t want to look after your customer, they way they want to be looked after, somebody else will.
No they won’t call you to ask why you haven’t responded. No they won’t send another response form. They won’t even email you to follow up.
They will simply do their business elsewhere.
Only this week I had the very same experience.
My qualified lead
As I often perform administrative tasks after hours, I decided to shop around the web for a supplier of a few insurance products I needed.
I’d met an insurance broker more than once at local business networking events but despite collecting their card at some point, I didn’t know where to start looking for it so went to their website as a first port of call.
Sure enough, according to their website they could provide both the insurance products I needed.
So I duly completed the enquiry form on the website with a short description of my requirement.
This was exactly a week ago. I know this because I spotted the ‘auto-response’ form in my junk folder.
And then, as the cliché goes – radio silence.
Nothing. No reply to my email. No phone call. No voicemail. No text. Sweet nothing.
Then the strangest thing happened.
Just like magic
Later in the week I was taking a brief from a prospective client about the requirements of their equipment hire business when they reminded me of their other ‘breadwinner’ business.
And what line of business was it?
You guessed it. Insurance.
And could they provide what I was after? Absolutely!
Of course the rest is history. I’m about to sign up with my prospect for both insurance policies in what was a surprise win/win for my client and I.
And as for my preferred provider?
Yes their auto-response continues to sit in my supplier folder where it will slowly wither and rot – its only value as a case study for that chronic SME condition, medium myopia.
Make sure your business is inoculated against the condition before it’s too late!
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.