We have all seen them, those badly scribbled notes on shop and office doors saying ‘back soon’, ‘closed for 15 minutes’ or ‘out to lunch’. They leave us standing there on the pavement considering if we actually want the product they sell that much or if someone else may be able to supply our needs. Let’s be honest even if we are loyal customers or the business is unique we all feel let down or unimportant when such notices are left instead of an open shop door and welcoming face.
It doesn’t stop with door signs either. Many web sites, marketing materials, telephone answer machines and general communications from businesses leave us with the same feeling of being let down by a business or that they don’t value our time and custom. How many times have you visited a web site or blog which is out of date or speaks about projects and offers from last year or even the year before? Or you call a business to get an answer phone message which says we are closed and doesn’t allow you to leave a message or give you any other option.
Do business owners think it’s acceptable to communicate with customers and potential customers this way? Well as a business owner, do you? No you probably don’t think it’s right, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you do these or other similar things, either by necessity or without really realising the damage you are potentially doing.
Why do business owners disrespect their customers?
I don’t think as business owners any of us mean to disrespect our customers or potential customers. On the whole we are so busy with the day to day running of our business that some things, well, they just slip. The blog which seemed important when you started up 3 years ago has become unimportant to your business so you no longer keep it up-dated and in fact you haven’t logged in for months. But for me as a potential new customer if that’s what I find when I Google you or it’s still mentioned on your marketing material then I will log in and look at it. Yet now I’m left wondering if you are still trading or if you are not really serious about your business.
How can we avoid a “back soon” image to our business?
First of all check your communication, is it giving out the right messages to your customers? Now look at all the live communication channels you have, Facebook, twitter, newsletters, blogs and all the other options you signed up for when you first started out. Do you have the time to keep them all up to date? Consider how many of them really work for you, which you are able to keep up to date and which you should drop either for ever or just for now. The ones you no longer use or don’t have time to keep up to date may be better cancelled or closed down so that customers are not given the wrong messages. Tidy up web sites, marketing materials and any communication materials like business cards, signs and stationary to ensure they are up to date and professional looking as well as giving a consistent business message. It could be the difference between a customer giving you a call or calling your competitor.
Do customers care?
Well you could be right in thinking that for some customers they don’t care. Let’s take your local chip shop. If you look at the signage and posters inside and outside what message does it give you about the business? Our local one shouts, sad, unloved business that needs new signs and a bit of a spruce up. Yet they still seem to get customers although only really locals who know what they sell and what the quality is like. The chip shop further down the road is very smart, clean and the marketing materials and signage are up to date and cared for. Now that shop is always busy, gets nominated by its customers for awards and is often voted best chip shop. So which one has it right? The one which looks like its needs a face lift and has stickers on its posters with the price changes and seems to just tick over or the busy one with awards, great clear marketing and communication messages?
I’ll leave you to think about your business and the way you communicate to the public.
P.S. If you want to find out more about the best ways to communicate in business then why not join me on Thursday 14th June for my webinar ‘Business Communication – The do’s and don’ts to building business brand, awareness and communication strategies’. To find out how click here.