Hello! Is Anyone There?

Ever try to contact your cable provider or the manufacturer of a new electronics device.  Every just try to get a phone number? You probably go online and look for the contact us link hidden somewhere at the bottom of the page. If you are lucky you will find a number that pertains to your country. Then the fun begins trying to reach a live person. And one who actually works at the company and not from a call center in
a foreign country.

Nothing here is new. If you are part of a monopoly or have limited competition for your highly demanded services, then making yourself unreachable to those who want to make a complaint, ask for technical support or even order may save on expenses and only leave an annoyed client base. But if you are a small business in a marketplace with dozens if not hundreds of other companies like yourself, then providing great service may be your only edge. We know that here, too well. Just search for custom mugs or printed t-shirts and see how many websites pop up. There are hundreds if not thousands.

Suppose you are lucky enough for prospects to find you, be it online, through advertisements or word of mouth. Do you think that you have it made? Absolutely not! You have to close the deal with great products and great service. And part of great service is the actual experience of researching and interacting with your organization. To start, how easy is it to actually reach someone there?

Obviously spikes in business may prevent businesses from the ability to answer every live phone call they receive. But do you offer alternatives? If you are online, do you offer live chat? Do you leave a place for customers to leave a message by phone and assure them someone will get back to them immediately? Do you publish a customer service email address? These channels of communication are vital to obtaining AND keeping customers over the long haul.

And guess what? Providing channels of communication not only allows you to provide a positive customer experience, but also helps your orgainziation gather information. There is no better resource for vital product, service and demographic information than from the very people and companies you sell to. Take advantage, have questions ready for your reps like "how did you find us?" or "what services would you like to see us offer?"

Stay ahead of the pack. Do place your phone number in a seeable place on your website. Be it on the very top or prominently on the contact or about us page.  Do have a live chat interface if your company handles a lot of volume and you are in a question based market place.  Do man your phones and liv chat with real people who respond in an efficient and pleasant manner. And finally, treat your customers like you would like to be treated.

We know that people may still keep buying iphones and they will not cancel their cablevision and internet service because it is difficult to reach someone live if at all. But for companies like us that and most of the businesses out there, do not take your customers for granted by shutting them off from reaching you.