How much business have you lost because you made it harder than it has to be for people to use your products or ask you a question?

There are many times when I wish that I could ask the executives and managers of companies that I’d really like to do business with this simple question, “Have you ever tried to do business with your own company?”  Because it seems to me that, if they were encountering the same problems that I am in using their company’s products and services, they would surely FIX THEM.  We aren’t talking rocket science here, folks.

The kind of problems that I’m talking about are ridiculously easy to correct.

For example:

  • I have a glossy brochure from a company that would like me to donate goods to their wonderfully worthwhile nonprofit venture that provides support for people with developmental disabilities.  AND I’D LIKE TO DONATE! I really would. But here’s the message that I’ve now heard for two days in a row upon calling the donation pickup line listed on the brochure, “We’re sorry, that caller’s mailbox is full.”  Guess I’ll be donating two bikes to another worthy organization.
  • This morning I received an email solicitation from a company that wanted me to sign-up for their service online. It was something that I had an interest in and wanted to know more about.  But I had a question I wanted answered first.  Did they provide a phone number? Or any way at all to contact them? No.  Granted, I could go to the trouble of finding the contact information myself but…why should I?  They aren’t the only provider of this service.  I will go elsewhere.
  • I bought an eco-friendly liquid laundry detergent a few days ago.  The concentrated kind where you’re supposed to measure out 1 or 2 ounces (depending on the size of the load of wash) using the handy markers embedded in the bottle cap. EXCEPT that the marking lines are virtually invisible!  After much eye squinting and turning of the cap to catch the light just right, I’ve managed to see them…ever so faintly.  Do you think I’ll buy this detergent again?  No.
  • There was an ad in the newspaper last Sunday for an upcoming event.  It said to visit the web site for more information and directions, so I did.  The home page had one of those “click here to enter” buttons. I clicked and…nothing happened.  Several tries over two days and the button never worked.

These are minor inconveniences in my life. Just like it’s a minor inconvenience to be put on hold for ten minutes, get an ear blast of too loud music while waiting for my call to be answered or be forced to listen to a list of “press #” options only to find that NONE of them meets my needs and there is no option for speaking to a human being.  Just like it’s a minor inconvenience to have to deal with poorly written product assembly directions or the fancy stopper cap on the olive oil that almost requires a degree in engineering to figure out.

These things don’t really matter to me.  BUT IF YOU RUN A BUSINESS, THEY SHOULD MATTER TO YOU!  They don’t matter to me because I can do business with your competitor.  And I will.

My advice to you as a business owner, manager or employee who cares about staying in business is very simple:  BE A CUSTOMER of your business and see what it’s like to do business with you.  Call the phone numbers listed on your brochures.  Click the links on your web site.  Use the products.  Get into the game or get out of the business.  Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.  And you can fix those, if you know about them. It’s not rocket science.

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