Take My Money!

I’m in the process of moving house. To say the process is stressful is an understatement. During the week while I’ve been working through my ‘to do’ list of all the things needing attention the task of ‘get carpets professionally cleaned’ came up.

Simple enough I hear you say, and yes, it really should be. So why was I left at the end of my call wondering why it was so difficult to give this business my money?

That one 15 minute call got me thinking. How hard do we as business owners make it for our clients to spend money with us? How wedded are we to our processes and ‘the way we do things’ that we create unnecessary hurdles for customers?

The carpet cleaner, for example, wanted me to pay in cash on the day, the problem is I will have moved out by the time they come to do the carpets. No issue I thought, I’ll just pre-pay the invoice and have the estate agency let them in. How wrong I was. The thought of pre-paying an invoice sent the lady I was speaking to into a complete flap, insisting that “They don’t usually do that” and “Couldn’t I just leave cash in the house?” When I suggested that I’d like a receipt emailed for tax purposes the mix of confusion and frustration in her voice was palpable.

A call that should’ve taken a couple of minutes to sort out took a full 15 minutes of me needing to offer alternate solutions before she finally relented and agreed to email an invoice. But, she said, “It would need to be paid three working days before the service, or a cancellation fee would apply.”

I’m pretty sure it’s not just me shaking my head at how ludicrous that sounds.

I would love my clients to pre-pay me, and I’d like to think if something isn’t working that I’m the one who offers alternate solutions to my clients, not the other way around. Since my phone calls with numerous service providers this week, it’s forced me to review all of my own procedures, to ensure I’m viewing all aspects of what I do from the eyes of my customers.

So here’s my suggestion to you. Document every part of your sales process. From the first point of contact until the point where you’ve delivered your product or service. Once you’ve done that take a look at the process with a couple of friends and look for areas you could improve. Can you pre-fill in paperwork before sending clients forms? Is there anything your business can do that they aren’t currently doing that will make your clients feel just that little more appreciated?

Once you’ve gone through the above process, get brave and call a handful of clients. Ask them how they found the whole sales interaction process. Was there anywhere they felt overwhelmed, confused or annoyed? Was there anything your business could have done differently to make the journey to purchase smoother, easier or less complicated?

Checking in with your processes and your clients a couple of times a year will allow your business to remain customer-centric and forward focused. And let’s face it, with all the competition in the marketplace, clients will often go the path of least resistance.

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