Why you may be losing sales and what to do about it

Why you may be losing sales and what to do about it

Is this the missing link in your business?

One reason that may well be losing you clients is that your business is not working as well as you think it is.

When was the last time you checked all the links on your website or social media channels?  Have you actually tried to sign up to your own mailing list to make sure your system works?

Over the past week, I have come across no less than five separate businesses with broken links that the business owners were completely unaware of.  And one of them, I am embarrassed to say, was my own.

I set up a campaign and wondered why no one was signing up.  It was only after I doubled checked everything for the umpteenth time that I realised I had not refreshed my Mailchimp account inside my lead page and therefore all sign-ups were going to an old list with the same name but which was no longer in existence!  Excuse me a moment whilst I hang my head in shame.

Overlooking the obvious

And therein lies the problem.  Sometimes, we simply cannot see the wood for the trees.  We are so close to what we are doing and know how things should work, that we overlook the obvious.  So rather than rely on yourself to check things out, go ask someone wholly unrelated to your business to check your system for you.

I was talking with one of my clients this week who was concerned about the lack of sales.  We went and had a look at her website and everything looked wonderful.  On the front page was a quiz which promised an immediate e-voucher to visitors who completed it.  I took the quiz but nothing happened.  No voucher appeared.  The link at the other end was broken and I also did not appear in the mailing list.

Just stop and consider this for a moment.  Not only were my details not registered so I would never hear from this business, but if I were a genuine customer, I would feel a little cheated and lose trust in this company and possibly wonder if they could deliver on other promises.  Therefore, I would probably be unlikely to buy from them in the future.

Another website I visited left me completely frustrated because no less than three links were broken and just came up with 404 errors so I could not get to the information that was promised to me.

Once again, potential clients coming to this site would leave frustrated and with a poor view of the business.

Are you at a dead end?

And I have lost track of the number of social media posts that have links that when clicked upon go to dead pages or errors.  So frustrating!  And even worse when it is a link on the social media profile of a person or business.

So, go now and get somebody not connected with your business to go check out your website and look at any social media links you have.  Ask them to find out how easy it was to follow links, did they end up where they expected to, or did they find the process frustrating?

If you haven’t done your checks recently you really could be losing untold numbers of clients.  If you have a WordPress website you can install a broken link checker that will flag up any broken links for you.  If you would like someone to check your website or social media page for broken links and customer experience, come on over to my Facebook group and put in a request.  Either I or one of the other fabulous ladies in the group will be more than happy to do a review for you.

Do it now for your own sanity.

Customer service secrets to make you stand out from the crowd

Customer service secrets to make you stand out from the crowd

Over the past couple of weeks I have been amazed by the ongoing lack of customer service by so many businesses that I have come into contact with.

Make your first impression the right one

Firstly, I requested quotes from a number of virtual assistants to supply help to a client of mine whilst they were going through a particularly busy period.

One that I contacted did not respond at all and another came back with just a one-liner that they could do the work.  Not a good first impression!  If that was the standard of work they sent me I certainly wasn’t going to let them loose with admin for my clients.  Only one replied with a fully prepared proposal and price and suggested a phone conversation so that she fully understood what was required and to ensure she would be a good fit.  I chose this lady as during our conversation, she was honest in what she couldn’t do but said she would do her best to learn anything new if required to do so.  To me, this showed enthusiasm and a desire to work with me.

Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. – Kevin Stirtz

Be crystal clear on your service and what you can offer

I then phoned to get quotes for social media support for a client from a number of companies.  One passed me through to their social media ‘specialist’ who took what seemed like forever to find his notes on what they could offer and at what price.  He then could not clearly explain the service and upon questioning had no idea what he was talking about. No sale!

The next waffled on forever and ended up asking me what I thought they should put together as a package and at what price.  Hang on.  I thought I was phoning to find out what they could do for me, not for me to give them business advice.  No sale!

Another went into a barrage of sales spiel but was rabbiting on about social media channels wholly unsuitable for my client.  He didn’t ask one question about my client’s needs and gave me no opportunity to explain them.

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy Hollister Williams

Don’t make promises you cannot keep

Next I went to order some items from a website but had a query on another product they had for sale.  I phoned and left a message as their answerphone promised a call back within an hour.  No return call was forthcoming so I then emailed and again received no response at all.  Needless to say that I deleted the items in my shopping basket and purchased them elsewhere.

I then had another purchase to make and ordered an item for next day delivery but which did not arrive for 48 hours.  This really irritated me and I complained to the company.  If they had said delivery in 48 hours my expectations would have been met and I would have been a satisfied client so why did they promise me something that could not deliver?

 Make a customer, not a sale. – Katherine Barchetti

Exceed expectations

Finally, I made one more purchase that stated 5-day delivery yet turned up in 3 days.  Even though this item turned up one day later than the promised delivery time of the first company, I was over the moon as they had exceeded my expectations.  Just be honest with your customers and don’t set out promises that you can’t keep.

It is no use going to the time and expense of promoting your business only to throw away enquiries and valuable customers when they try to buy from you.

Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell

4 key tips to satisfying customers

So my key 4 tips to satisfying your customers are:

  1. Create the right first impression. Whether it is via email, phone call or face to face, when someone gets in contact for the first time, ensure that you create the right impression to gain their business.  Be professional, take an interest in their needs and listen carefully to what they actually want.
  2. Be clear on what you can offer. First and foremost, make sure that both you and every single staff member know what you offer and can explain this clearly when asked.  If you can’t, you will lose your prospect from the outset.
  3. Set expectations and then live up to them. Be clear on your pricing policy, terms and conditions, delivery and anything else relevant to the sale.  Make sure the customer is clear on these and set their expectations accordingly.  Don’t make promises to gain the sale that you just cannot keep.  It will do you more harm than good in the long term.
  4. Under promise and over deliver. Wherever possible exceed customer expectations so that they remember you for all the right reasons.  With the apparent lack of customer service with so many companies, you are highly likely to stand out from the crowd and gain long term customer loyalty.

Do you have a customer service story to tell, either good or bad?  Please leave your customer service experience story in the comments box below.

When are you too old to start a business

When are you too old to start a business

Do you think you are too old to start a business?

A recent report from O2 Business stated that ‘A wave of over-55s are looking to use their newfound access to their pension savings to start a business’ and one in four over-55 respondents to their survey aspire to start a business and ‘become their own boss’.

I have met a number of people in the over 50 age bracket who have felt that they are too old to be taking a risk in starting their own business.  But when I ask for the reason they feel this way, I rarely get a clear cut answer.  It just seems to be a common misconception that you have to be young to start a business.

However, as the article I read pointed out, 70 per cent of businesses started by over-55s last longer than three years, while only 28 per cent of those set up by young people last that long.

[Tweet “70 per cent of businesses started by over-55s last longer than three years”]

So what are the benefits of starting a business in your later years?

Firstly, life experience!  You will have been there, done it and got the tee shirt.  You will have had to deal with life’s ups and downs and found ways to get through them – essential qualities when running your own business.

Over the years, you will undoubtedly have built up many transferrable skills that younger entrepreneurs have yet to master whether these be people skills, patience, determination, handling finances or one of the many other that you gain through life that are too many to list here.

And from a buyers point of view, they tend to trust more mature traders.

When people come to me and say that they are too old to start a business I relay the adage to them that ‘age only matters if you are a cheese’.

Age only matters if you are a cheese

[Tweet “Age only matters if you are a cheese”]

To name just a few older famous people who started business in later years ….

  • Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at age 50.
  • Colonel Sanders, was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at Age 73
  • John Pemberton invented Coca cola at age 55
  • Maxine Clarke invented Build A  Bear at age 48

And, far more importantly, the mother of a friend of mine has just written her first ever children’s book at the tender age of 91 years young!!!

So if you are over 55 and have an unfilled dream, please don’t think you are too old to start a business.  Be brave, do your research and go for it.

If you would like a sounding board as to your idea or tips on how to get started, get in touch now.