“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Where are you from again? Making the communication process easy
How your company handles inquiries can make a big difference not only to your immediate orders but also to whether customers file away your details for future reference. It's not difficult to establish a system for handling inquiries, yet so many businesses get it wrong I can only assume they don't want any customers.
Recently, I needed to organise two communication industry workshops in Sydney. I emailed 21 venues with a request for cost breakdowns for room hire for 100 and 200 guests, for coffee and tea with and without pastries, and for audiovisual equipment hire and any technical assistance.
Only six of the 21 venues provided all the requested information and included all their contact details in their first email response. Of the 21:
- Three failed to follow up with an email or a phone call after acknowledging my email
- Nine failed to include any contact details on their email responses
- One function manager was on holidays and didn't redirect his emails to anyone in the functions team so the venue never learned I wanted a quote
- Two were booked out and suggested another date but provided no information in case my dates were flexible
- Two wanted me to contact their audiovisual department to obtain a quote
- One had three different people contact me
Don't miss out on potential new clients
Can you ensure requests for quotes - essentially, potential new business - can be answered by more than one person in your company, especially if the primary person is away? Have you set up your systems to ensure basic information (in this case, the price per head for tea and coffee) can be accessed immediately?
Do you automatically say ''We're booked out/we can't do it/we're too small'' to potential clients without checking if that booking can be changed? Do you provide them with all the information they requested in case one day your services are just what the customer requires?
Don't add extra steps to the sales process
Few clients, after specifically asking for a quote from your company, will chase you (and even less likely, your preferred supplier) for information if they've never dealt with you before. Don't forget, they're probably speaking to your competitors, so you have to go the extra mile.
Don't rely on attachments
If you send proposals via email, do you rely too heavily on attachments? They can take too long to download (one document I received was 3.24Mb!), and some clients' IT systems automatically block attachments and require permission to open them. Others fear inadvertently received computer viruses. Can your clients click on hyperlinks to your website instead to see the same information?
Make it easy for clients to book with you
Almost half the function coordinators ''signed off'' with only their name (and only in some cases also their title) on their initial emails. I had to open the attachments to find out what number to call them on - and even which venue they represented.
Create a signature with contact details
Not including your contact details is a hassle for the client at best, and ensures lost business at worst! If you have Microsoft Outlook, it's simple to create an email signature (under Tools, Options, Signatures) that will automatically appear on every email. Make sure you include your title and every conceivable contact method - fax, mobile, email, web and street addresses.
Make sure every person in the company uses a signature file. The time it saves the client having to find your company contact details could be the make or break for new business.