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Is Your Business Failing Like These Companies?

Is Your Business Failing Like These Companies?

What is the first impression a serious customer has of your business?

Is your business failing like these businesses?

by:  John Holobinko, ManagingDirector

I recently decided to purchase a small to medium business printer.  I researched online which printers likely best meet my needs.  The printer has to be a laser office quality versus home quality  (I am tired of clogged ink jets and at times I need high volume quickly), it needs to support multiple business users and has to have business grade security amongst other attributes.  After analyzing multiple models for features and for customer reviews, I decided on the manufacturer and pretty much thought I knew the model I needed.  So I clicked on the manufacturer’s website for local business solutions vendors that provided this printer for both purchase and ongoing support.

Entering zip code 28134 (Pineville)on the manufacturer’s website brought up three companies that supported this printer manufacturer within a 10 mile radius of Pineville.  Keep in mind, I am a buyer ready to make a purchase –  I am finished shopping.  I could buy from the manufacturer directly via its website, but I want the benefits of a local vendor. 

Armed with the three companies provided by the manufacturer as preferred vendors, here is my experience making calls to them during normal business hours.  Do you treat potential customers like this?

Company 1:  After suffering through two levels of a voice automation system I was finally able to select product sales extension.  The number rang and no one picked up.  After many rings I was asked to leave a message – not to any person or any defined place – just “leave a message”.  I hung up expecting better.

Company 2:  After going through only 1 level of the voice automation I was able to select sales.  A real person answered but said s/he was in customer support and would transfer me to a sales person.  I went on hold for 5 minutes during which time a message was repeatedly played telling me I was “next in the queue”.  Nothing ever happened and no one checked as to why I was on hold.  I gave up.

Company 3:  Again suffering through 2 levels of voice automation to get to sales, no one picked up.  The system automatically routed me to the operator to leave a message, after which it told me that the extension I was routed to had no voice mail set up. Somehow it then routed me to a corporate central location. The corporate automated call system asked me for my zipcode, then routed me back to the original number of the branch I had called, just to start the same endless loop over again.

In conclusion, it was three colossal failures.  Not one of three companies was set up to manage a potential customer as a high priority.  It’s as if everything else is more important to their business than a new customer.  What is most strange is that this behavior is happening in an environment where businesses are trying to expand, purchase new products and new services. 

So my two questions to you are this: 

  • Would your business be any different? 
  • How do you know for sure?

To answer my first question, you need to call your own business – or depending on your size, have a person you trust call your business as if they are ready to buy, while you set beside her/him.  See how many steps it takes a buyer to reach anyone in the business who can discuss a product/service and take an order.  What happens if there is no one in the office to take the call?  Does it get routed to a sales person’s voice mail with a name in the recording that encourages the caller to leave a message and promises a prompt reply?  Or does your system just generically tell the caller to leave a message?  Or worse, does it keep the caller holding forever to an endless number of rings?  Or even worse yet, does it automatically disconnect the caller after a predetermined number of rings without even allowing a message to be placed?

Here is something additional to ponder:  How do you know what number of calls end up handled on the customer’s first try, without having to leave a message?  You should know and track this.   Your PBX software should be able to provide this data to you, and you should be reviewing it every week to understand your customers’ experience if you have a business scorecard/dashboard that you use, this should be an item that you track. (See “Scorecards Aren’t Just for Baseball”, blog post 5/10/21).

Now as for me, I’ve decided to buy the printer directly from the manufacturer.  I’ll gamble on being able to configure it properly.  I won’t purchase a post sale support agreement from a local vendor since I’m skeptical based on my experience, that support from the local vendors would be any different than my presales experience wh1en I was ready to buy.

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