Make It Easy for Your Customers
"Thank you for holding, your business is very important to us..."
How could it be, you ask yourself? If your business was really important to their business, you would get instant, competent help.
When you're holding on the phone, how long is too long before you hang up? Nobody likes to be ignored, although perhaps it's easier to tolerate on the phone than when in person. You wouldn't make your customers wait before talking to them when they walk into your showroom, would you?
The other day my wife asked a store clerk about when an out-of-stock item would be available again. The clerk replied, "I can't tell you if, or when, we will get that same item back in stock." Perhaps this item was in their warehouse, or maybe not, but how can a business function these days without providing such vital information to customers? When so many items can be bought online and shipped to the customers' front door, how can a brick and mortar business not seize the opportunity to harness inventory management technology to let a customer know exactly when an item will be available for purchase?
When a customer walks into your showroom and asks to buy an item they've purchased from your store before, but it's no longer on the shelf, what do you tell them? How do you get them to return?
Speaking of returns, I stumbled across the returns pile at a big box store the other day, clearly not meant for customer eyes. With half assembled grills, damaged shelving, and a velvet painting of Elvis (really, they still sell those), I had to wonder if the store was even processing these items at all. The customer already had a refund in hand, but what of the goods? Were the damaged items sorted out from the things that could be resold? Often, damaged or worn out returned items, especially those that are boxed, are not inspected but simply put back on the shelf for next unsuspecting customer.
You may believe your company is easy to buy from. But are your customers confident that they'll walk away with, or have delivered, exactly the right parts they need for the job? What does a botched order entry or shipping error cost your customer when their crew arrives to a job site and you've sent the wrong pipe lengths, or wrong fasteners, or wrong junction boxes? If you have a warehouse management system, what's it doing for your customers? If you don't know, it's a great opportunity to invite them into your distribution center or branch and show them what goes on behind the scenes when they order from you. As a by-product, they'll share their ideas about how you can service their business better. It sure beats putting them on hold.
To your success,
Eric C. Allais
President & CEO