I had a blog post planned for today, but yesterday’s experience just was too full of great lessons to ignore. For those of us in the US, yesterday was a holiday and that means some stores are closed or have shorter holiday hours.
Among other things I had planned yesterday, I decided to brave a trip to Ikea to keep some home improvement projects moving ahead. Since it’s quite a trek to get there, I wanted to make sure they were open into the evening. I started with their website and there was no mention of holiday hours. I then entered into phone menu purgatory which was an endless nested maze of options, none of which was “at any time press zero for an operator.” Those phone menu set ups are a horrible way to treat customers. Does any customer feel valued when that’s what they are greeted with? I think by now most people are used to the phone menu hazing they have to go through to get service, and know that if they do choose to speak to a live person they may have to wait. I was surprised though, at how difficult they made it and that there was no obvious way to get to a live person. I finally did get a live person through one of the many combinations of keys I pressed, and of course he couldn’t answer my question but put me back on hold for 7 minutes until someone picked up. Needless to say, this was extremely frustrating and a big waste of over 20 minutes of my time. It made me, an interested customer, way less interested in buying. In fact, if I didn’t need something I could only get there I wouldn’t have gone at all. It certainly made get in and out as fast as possible and thus they lost any other sales they might have had with me. A company like Ikea can get away with this – the one near me is almost always jam packed with a lines of 20 people at each of a dozen registers. They don’t need to change anything about how they treat their customers, but what about the rest of us? What lesson is there for a solopreneur business in this? I came up with 3 things we can take from this experience.
Don’t make it hard to buy, in fact make it as easy as possible. I suspect Ikea would have lost a lot of people in this situation who were less determined and in need than me.
Don’t make it hard to contact you. Give clients and customers options for how they contact you and make it easy to find that information.
Anticipate and reply to obvious questions. Think about what big, obvious questions your clients may have and answer them before your clients ask. Don’t make them work for basic information – most won’t and you’ll lose sales. If you get the same question more than a few times, put the answer in your materials.
What are some of the ways you help customers to buy? Share them in the comments.