Take an Internet lesson from the big companies

by

Published: May 25,2009

How come the smartest people in the world (CEOs, sales VPs and marketing VPs) are so stupid when it comes to treating their customers like kings and queens online? And how “online smart” are you? 

Opportunity

Because the business model of big business leaves out “ease of doing business and ease of customer contact,” or the people building their site are customer unconscious, or the people who work in the company have never been their own customer to test the process, or they’re so busy working on their stock price and squeezing profit nickels, they forget that at some point, long-term revenue from loyal customers will determine success. 

And then they wonder what’s wrong, or why people don’t return or create the positive virus they were hoping for. Hello!

The Internet is without question the new commercial frontier. Especially in these times. The only question is who will “win the web.” And the answer is: Those whose products are in demand, and who are easy to do business with before, during and after the transaction. 

And size (of company) does not matter. 

 Here are a few things (most large companies do not do) to consider as you’re seeking to improve your web awareness and increase e-commerce revenue:

1. Have a “call me” or “e-mail me” or “I need help” or “chat” button in your e-commerce area. Technology has taken everyone to a level where instant is the standard of service. Customers want help and answers. Deliver that or lose to someone who does.

2. Post your address, e-mail and phone number in several prominent places. Especially on your home page, your lead e-commerce page and your checkout page. Sometimes I wanna call somebody because I think calling is faster and easier. Give me the option, or I’ll get to the checkout page, have a problem, need a quick answer, look for a phone number, not find one (because you’re gonna educate me to use the Internet) and click off and abandon the order. 

3. Too many clicks to nothing. Pages that lead me to more choices instead of just getting me to what I want. 

4. Leaving me out in the ozone after I do something. I wanna buy, and I click “add to my cart.” Now what? Take me back to where I was. 

5. Humanize your e-mail auto-response. Have an auto-response that contains the name of a human being, their e-mail address and a phone number. Signing your e-mail “the customer service department” is as stupid as it is rude.

5.5 Unplug auto-attendant and answer your phone with “Hello!” If I ever do find your number and call you, telling me “to serve you better, please select from the following nine options,” none of which are why I called, and when I press “0” telling me “that is not a valid option” is an insult, and everyone hates it (including you). Why do you do it? If all companies would make the first option “press one if computer phone attendant pisses you off” and get that to the desk of the CEO and the board of directors, computer phone answering devices would be ripped out of the walls worldwide. Forever.

 Cost reality

The biggest whine of big companies is that it costs too much to answer the phone with a live person. Well, it might increase their operating costs, but the key to business longevity is “friendly help,” not price or aggravating service. Profits generated by increased sales will more than make up for it. 

Bonus business

Bloggers and tweeters will create a viral windstorm telling people that you answer live and are friendly. 

 There are several other elements that will help purchases both short and long term. Great photos, excellent descriptions, ease of form filling out, customer friendly return program and customer ratings of both product and shipping. 

 We have added video clips that serve both as a description and sales pitch. Short, sweet — and profitable.

Many people will read this and think, “don’t want to spend the money,” or “don’t have the budget,” or worse, “don’t need to change.” This is great news for you. They are the people and the companies you can beat to the sale, and beat to the bank.

 

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com.

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