Many small business owners wear many hats. You are Managers of raw materials, production, distribution, marketing, accounting, and human resources to name a few. It can be tough to keep it all together on any given day and sometimes it feels like a miracle you’re making it. (Salute to you! You’ve made it this far.)
As you’re continuing on your journey of brand awareness and filling that pipeline of future customers, take a minute to check your customer journey. The customer journey is their experience with your business from first interaction to purchase (and re-purchase. It’s 6x easier to keep a customer than find a new one). There are many many facets to the customer journey and for the purpose of this article I’d like to focus on the buying experience. Or in the case of a services oriented business, the booking experience.
Assume a customer has decided to make a purchase or book your services. Put yourself in their shoes and analyze how convenient it is for them to buy. What is the process? How do they buy?
- Do you have a Contact Us page on your website with your phone # and maybe an email listed?
- Do they have to fill out a form from your website?
- Do you have no website and they have to find your business card or brochure to call or email you?
- Can they buy or book off your FaceBook page? LinkedIn?
- Is your schedule of availability on the ‘Schedule Service’ page of your website?
- Are your products listed on your website with inventory control and e-commerce functionality?
- If you’re doing e-commerce, do they have to enter their credit card each time or does your site store credit cards?
- Can they text you, FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn message you?
You’ll want to get them to the goods as quickly and conveniently as possible. Remember the Staples ‘That was easy’ button? Yeah you want them to say that about doing business with you. Here’s a few examples of companies that make it easy.
My son has opened a Rover.com business. Have you heard of Rover.com? This is dog walking, sitting and boarding with Uber or HomeAway convenience. He puts up a profile with info about him, our home, his credentials, pictures of some pets, his rates, his customers complete reviews about his service and most importantly, he posts his availability. Then potential customers can search for the service they need, in their geographic location, in the time slot they need. Up pops all the available candidates. They browse all the candidates, find one they like, put in a request for service, he accepts (or declines) their request, sets up a Meet & Greet where they go over the details in person and while he meets the dog and find out if it’s going to chase our cats or jump on my bed (bad dog!). They pay online, drop off the dog (or he goes to their house, if that’s the service they chose), we enjoy a dog while they’re gone, they pick up the dog. Easy. The Rover platform is just easy. I’ve seen these service websites for babysitting (care.com), house rentals (Homeaway.com, VRBO.com or airbnb.com), grocery shopping (shipt.com or instacart.com) and of course rides (uber.com or lyft.com). They really offer convenience and assure customers through reviews. As a potential customer you can choose the best of the best, at least based on the star-rating and customer reviews.
Now with Amazon 1-Click, they have almost made it too easy to buy. It’s so easy in fact people have accidentally bought something from the app and then been surprised by the package showing up at their door! And Amazon positioned 1-click as an exclusive service for their Prime Members. The way 1-click works is simple. Once you’ve made your first purchase with Amazon, your credit card and delivery address are saved as your default 1-click settings. You can change these in your profile, but they are set by default based on your first purchase. Then as you are shopping around Amazon.com, you find something you like, you click Buy with 1-click and #boom, you by-pass the cart, get right to ‘thank you for your order’ and voila your package appears in as little as 2-days. This service is sooo very convenient if you want to buy just one thing. When you want to buy more than one item, it’s best to skip 1-click or you may end up paying for more shipping than you need. I was recently shopping books on my Amazon shopping app. I found the book I wanted and hit the 1-Click button, not really understanding how it worked, I was shocked to find myself at the “Thank you for your order” screen. Then I was in awe with how quickly Amazon got my money. So smart on their part! But I did have to quickly check my 1-Click setting to make sure my book was actually going to arrive at MY house. And then of course, I wasn’t done shopping so I promptly went back and ordered 4 more books the old fashioned way, by adding to cart and checking out. LOL.
Raise your hand if you like taking time off from work to stand in line. I’m pretty sure no one is raising their hand. I recently paid off my car. Yay me. Or not so Yay me. You see in FL the Dept of Motor Vehicles holds the title, instead of the lien holder. So I got the letter from the bank congratulating me on paying off the loan, but then I still had to get the title from the state. Ugh. I was dreading this experience, but keeping my eye on the prize and mustering up some enthusiasm for what was sure to be an unpleasant experience, I got online to find out the hours of my closest DMV so I could figure out when I could fit this torture into my schedule. Much to my surprise and delight, I quickly learned that the bank had notified the DMV that I paid off my loan (no need to bring the letter in to the DMV office) AND for 4 measley dollars I could have my title sent to me (no need to go to the DMV AT. ALL). Wait what? No time off from work to stand in line? Yippeee!!! sign me up. In the 5 minutes it took me to find the hours of the local DMV, I had requested my title be sent to me and paid $4. Wow THAT was easy. And my image of the DMV has shifted slightly from the despise category to the like category.
Take a minute to analyze your own customer’s experience. Walk through your various customer entry points with a customer’s view point and be sure their experience is so easy, they’ll be looking for the “that was easy” button.