It’s 2013. In a few years, the things that we are doing now will be old, and there will be newer, more exciting things to make our lives easier. More and more products will be introduced to the retail and technology landscapes, and businesses will continue to evolve (as they have up until now) to meet consumer demand.
As business is always evolving, and so are consumers, there are a few things that companies need to start doing if they want to continue being successful.
When we were buying the house, there was nothing more frustrating than dealing with the companies that needed to provide us with the services necessary to make the transaction. Notaries and lawyers were inaccessible. Banks were frustrating to deal with. Most inspection companies were unreasonable.The companies that got my business met a strict criteria.
Here’s what to do if you want to lose my (and my other Gen Y and likely Gen X peers) business:
Don’t Have a Website
‘Cause, you know, who needs a website when you have a phone that you never answer? No problem, you can just verbally describe all of the products you have to me and how much they all cost, and what quantities they come in.
Don’t Post Your Rates Online
Make me take a break from my workday to call you on your phone (which you don’t answer) to get your rates, when your competitors have them posted online
Work Bankers Hours
Nobody has a job these days anyway. No big deal if your customers have to take a vacation day just to get a hold of you, let alone visit your store. 9-6 are great store hours, for those who are retired and/or don’t work.
Be Closed on Sunday
Because it’s still 1926 when every.single.worker in the city takes Sundays off to go to church.
Sure, tell me that you’ll do the home inspection and write up the report and have it to me four days after the inspection. That will make me really happy. Because, you know, there’s no such thing as technology and you have to hand-write it out with a feather and a scroll. Oh, and you work only from 9-6.
Put Me On Hold (For > 30 seconds)
Sure no problem, I’ll wait for 5 minutes on the phone while you finish typing out your email, even though I just “snuck away” from work to phone you because you don’t have a website and you are only open until 6:00 PM so I can’t phone you after work.
Tell Me You Don’t Take Credit Card Payments
I have always dreamed of doing business with a company that makes me go to the bank (if I can find a branch – who goes to banks these days, anyway?) to take out cash to pay them, forgoing my credit card rewards and the ease of payment. Very progressive. Or, better yet, suggest I write a cheque. I have tons of those lying down for all the companies that allow you to pay via cheque these days.
Bother Me After the Transaction
You’ll definitely retain my business in the future if, after you were diligent enough to even get my business to begin with, you begin emailing me, phoning me, and sending messages through carrier pigeon with vouchers and newsletters and the like.
You Refuse to Use Email
I love companies who phone me after I fill out a contact form which requires me to put my phone number down but yet I specify in the body of the email “please email only”. I love when my phone starts lighting up when I’m discussing important collective agreement provisions with my boss. That’s my favorite thing ever.
Here are some examples to see what I mean in live action:
The Junk Disposal Bin
We’d just finished tearing the old shingles off the roof and needed to rent a bin to have the material taken away. I did a quick Google search, and saw that there were quite a few companies in my area that would provide the service. Two of the companies had websites that quoted the prices, which was great. We’d just purchased our house and wanted to get the best deal possible, so I was attempting to do some price comparison.
Two more companies had websites but not prices, and they listed email addresses and phone numbers. I emailed them both and they didn’t respond within 24 hours. Because their hours were so limited, I had to phone them when I snuck away on a quick, unauthorized work break.
One told me that she was just the “secretary”. She told me the price but then transferred me to somebody else to let me know what the availability of the bin we wanted was. That person put me on hold. I was on hold for greater than one minute, so I hung up and called the next company.
The next company told me the prices, but couldn’t bring the bin for a week. So I hung up and went with one of the more expensive ones that had their prices listed on their websites, and the order form right there too.
(There were also a couple of companies that didn’t have websites, but I didn’t even bother with them).
The Asbestos Removal Companies
We negotiated to have the asbestos removed by the previous owners, but we had to arrange for this to happen.
There were some companies that charged double; some companies that didn’t work on weekends (wtf), meaning we’d have to store all of our stuff for a night and stay in a hotel for the weekend because they wouldn’t be out of there in time for us to move in. Some companies even charged for the assessment and quote (yeah, as if I’d ever do that).
The company we finally settled on was reasonable. My biggest beef with them, was that they didn’t allow credit card payments.
The previous owners were transferring funds to us to pay for the removal, and at $5,000, I could have gotten a lot of rewards points on my credit card. They requested payment via cheque, and since I haven’t used cheques since 2009 when I had to pay rent with a cheque, I had to order one cheque and send it via snail mail (meaning I had to buy envelopes and stamps, too). It got lost in the mail, so rinse and repeat by the time they got their money.
I can’t imagine that this is efficient for either the customer or the company, and even though they did a great job and were efficient and really bent over backward for me, I’d never use them again for the fact that they need to start being more competitive with the payment they accept.
Being that there are so many choices out there for pretty much anything you’d need and want, I’m of the opinion that it’s so important to be competitive and really work to attract and retain customers. What do companies do that makes YOU walk away?