First, please understand this is not a rant. Not that I don’t like to read a rant every so often. My friends, Rebel Brown and Randy Gage occasionally write rants and I always learn something from them. But, that’s not what this is.
This is simply one of those things that – while it happened with a major company — contains a basic lesson that medium and small-sized businesses alike are also wise to heed.
Learning that the daughter of a family friend is graduating high school I asked my Mom (hi Mommy!) to suggest a place that a young woman would probably like to receive a gift certificate to. Being the quasi lazy soul I am, I figured a $100 gift certificate would make up for the total lack of imagination I have in this regard, not to mention the astounding lack of interest I have in personally shopping for a gift. Mom suggested a nationally-known, major store; one that would probably be easy for me to locate.
I searched the Internet and found one near her. Then, the call was placed. It would be quick and — even better — done…not!
Yes, the auto-whateverit’scalled; that thing that provides you with a bunch of departments from which to choose; none of them being the “human department” with real, live person, was activated. After three tries, I finally pushed “0” (duh!) but, instead of being delivered into the safe and caring hands of the operator who would then send me to the order department…I was informed that — apparently for the privilege of speaking with a real person — I must first enter my customer number.
Huh? Bud (Bud being the, err, autowhatever), I shop…hmm, when was the last time?…Oh, that’s right, NEVER! Okay, actually, occasionally I do have to buy a new suit or something that necessitates me stepping into a store. But I don’t do it often. And I definitely don’t have a customer number to any retail establishment! So, having no way to get to a live person, I hung up.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not mad. I’m not even frustrated. I’m more bewildered than anything else. I’m confused that, in an economy where people (including heads of major companies) are complaining about a lack of business, nobody wanted to take my order. Sure, it’s just $100 but I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has had this type of experience.
Make it easy for your customer to buy. Is it really that hard?
Now, I might receive some suggestions from people telling me I could have ordered via the store’s Internet system, or had I punched this number it would have taken me here or I punched a wrong digit somewhere (this last one entirely possible, by the way) or the next time just to…whatever. And, while I appreciate the thought, I would need to respectfully suggest that isn’t the point.
The point is that they had an easy $100 sale from someone who wanted to buy and had his credit card out and waiting (this is called a “lay-down”), 🙂 but who found the process more difficult and time-consuming than he was willing to put up with. Thus he got “back up.” So, while that store lost an easy sale, our young graduate will receive a check directly from “Uncle Bob” instead.
Make it easy for your customer to buy. Sometimes it really is that simple.