Join me as I recount our short-lived customer journey with ABC Company, and explain how you can avoid the same pitfalls…
The first experience my husband and I ever had with ABC was at an event we were attending. They had a booth where people could sign up to have a representative come out and give a free estimate. The employees at the booth said that someone would be in our area on a specific day the following week. We happened to be free that day so we committed to a specific date and time because we were interested in their services. At the this point the ball was in their court.
A couple days later, a rep from ABC Company called and said it was nice meeting us… at some other event that we hadn’t attended. I corrected him and he replied “Oh, we’re at a ton of those things – it’s hard to keep them all straight.” Then he tried to schedule us for a different day than the one we had signed up for, and I politely told him we had already a day/time set up. He simply replied, “Okay great, well we’ll see you then I guess!” and hung up. This lack of preparation was an immediate red flag because it indicated that there’s not a lot of communication within the company and the employees are basically just winging it.
Tip: Use a CRM system to store vital information about your leads and customers. Then create smart work flows to contact warm leads and follow up with customers throughout the customer life cycle. Leads at different points in the customer journey will have different needs and your approach to dealing with them should be customized accordingly.
Awkward In-Person Meeting
Two representatives showed up to assess our needs and put together a quote. One was the owner of the company, which would be really great except that the owner was a first-class dink. I always appreciate when the owner of a small business is out on the front lines getting his/her hands dirty, but if the owner of your company isn’t really a people-person, he should probably stick to installs and not sales.
Tip: Ensure that your customer-facing employees are personable and represent your brand appropriately. There are plenty of people who know a lot about your industry, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the best salespeople. The employees that you send out to customers’ homes should appear knowledgeable, trust-worthy, and likable.
While the reps from ABC Company were at our home my husband asked when we would receive the quote that they were putting together. The owner asked if we needed it urgently and we told him that we weren’t in a rush so he could take his time. The only timeframe that he gave us was a vague answer that it “shouldn’t be too long.” Without a sense of what that really meant, we didn’t have a clear picture of what would happen next.
Tip: Always tell customers what’s coming next! Manage their expectations with firm timeframes like “I’ll send you a quote within the next week” or “Our scheduler will be in touch tomorrow to set up a time to come out for the installation” or “Your first routine service visit will be in about a month.” This will ensure that you don’t have leads/customers misunderstanding what will be happening down the road.
Lack of Actionable Branding
When the ABC Company left, they didn’t leave behind a business card, brochure, or anything else that identified them. Neither my husband nor myself could remember the name of the company afterwards, so we just waited for the quote without any way of reaching out to them. It was embarrassing that we had no idea who had been in our home, but since we’d never heard of the company before the day that they were taking sign-ups for quotes, we were without any way of following up. They also hadn’t given us anything at the event where we had originally signed up, so we literally had no idea who these people were. In fact, I searched online for local service providers in their industry and among all the companies that appeared in the search results, none of them looked or sounded familiar at all due to this company’s complete lack of branding.
Tip: Provide free swag to leads and customers so that they can reach out to you as needed. Whether it’s pens, fridge magnets, drink cozies, or just business cards, give people something that has your business logo, phone number, email address, and URL.
We waited and waited for a quote from ABC Company and after 6 weeks we still hadn’t received anything. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I started to read into some of the things that they had said when they were here and I was starting to get really worried that the “company” in question was potentially just a scam by some guys that wanted to come case out our home to rob it later. Finally, I had to do something, so I put on my investigative hat and searched other local events similar to the one we had attended (since the rep who called originally said that they attend a lot of those types of events) and found one company that had overlap between events. I then looked that company up on LinkedIn and found the owner, and it was unmistakably the same jerk that had been in our home. So, I called ABC Company. The lady in the office that I spoke with said that it was very strange that we hadn’t received anything because the quotes don’t usually take very long to send out. She said that they were in a difficult position currently because they had double-booked themselves at events so the team was all out of the office except her but that she would look into it.
Tip: Always follow up with leads after providing a quote or pitching your services. They may truly not be interested, or they may not have received the quote or email that you sent or heard the voicemail that you left. It never hurts to follow-up because at the very least it shows that you care about their business.
A week passed after I spoke with the frenetic lady on the phone who was left behind in the office and I still didn’t hear anything, so I called again. I then spoke with a different lady who apologized and told me that she “would personally get back to me by the end of the day.” The day ended with no call. I called back the next day and spoke with a third lady who said she’d have to transfer me. She transferred my call to the woman I spoke to the first time. That lady said she had never been told that I called back but that she’d resent the quote a week earlier after we spoke the first time and urged that I look in my spam folder. I told her that I was sure we still didn’t have it. After some checking, she realized she’d been sending it to the wrong email address because our contact information had been scribbled down by the owner when he came out and it was illegible.
Tip: There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than feeling like they’re getting the runaround from a business! Instead of transferring people or taking a message so that someone else can get back to them later, try to resolve their issue the first time without requiring any additional work or follow-up on their end. The more seamless you can make it when answering their questions and resolving their issues, the better taken care of your customers will feel.
A Vague Quote
When we FINALLY got the quote, it looked like it took about 15 seconds to do. It was a template that had a few details scribbled in: customer name and contact information, the price, the recommended product model. That’s it! We waited over seven weeks for that! To say that I was disappointed was an understatement. To say that we’d never use their company was probably an even bigger understatement.
Tip: A quote is a huge piece of your sales strategy (or at least it should be). It must sell your products and your brand like any other salesperson on your staff. Take the time to provide a quote that outlines in detail exactly what a customer will get from your company, what the benefits are, and why they need it. Make it specific. Make it compelling. Make it worth waiting for and reading.
Misaligned Brand Promise
The one thing that the owner of this business kept talking about while he was at in our home was how technologically advanced their products are. He informed us that they can use Bluetooth technology to fix issues remotely so that owners don’t have to be inconvenienced with traditional service calls and that their products always have the latest and greatest everything because they can download updates automatically instead of needing new technology manually implemented. However, the quote we got was hand-written and ABC Company clearly doesn’t use any sort of software on their end to keep track of customer data or automate customer communication. The result is a glaring mismatch between their brand promise and their operational execution.
Tip: Regardless of what your brand promise is, run your day-to-day operations in alignment with that promise. Whether you’re “the tech-savvy company” or “the family values company” or the “there in a pinch company,” echo that in all your brand communications across every customer touchpoint.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!