Pretend to be your own customer at least once a month

August 31, 2009
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How good are you, really?

Be your own customer and find out — really.

Yesterday I got the shock of my life: I tried to buy something on my own Web site and couldn’t.

Funny, I buy all kinds of things on other people’s Web sites. I’m a one-click buyer on Amazon. I’m a PayPal customer. And I have my credit card registered and saved on every site that will allow it.

In short, I trust the Internet.

In short, short: If I decide that I want to buy something online, I want to buy it fast. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about filling out an online order form (where all the boxes say it’s “mandatory” to enter my information.)

Many of you subscribe to my weekly e-mail magazine and have taken advantage of the “deal of the week” — a special offer on a bundle of my books and CDs. Last week we decided to present something for the first time: a $20 discount off any of my upcoming public seminar tickets. Fair enough.

So I went to my own site to test the offer. I put in a request to buy five tickets. The Web site (MY Web site) promised fast and easy purchase. And that promise was anything but the truth. It was a pain in the butt.

I clicked off of my own site in frustration and disgust.

I immediately pulled the offer and we went through an e-commerce exercise that brought me back to reality. We revamped the purchasing process to where it IS fast and easy — and easy to understand.

It’s now fixed for the short term, and we have a long-term plan in place (actually in motion) to make it even faster and easier.

Major clue: Had I not tried to buy something from my own Web site, I would have never known about the problem. I would have danced along actually believing my own words, never realizing that customers were frustrated.

And worse, I would never have realized they weren’t purchasing but were clicking off, abandoning the next step in the buying process because it was slow, cumbersome and uninformative.

How’s your Web site? Think your e-commerce is great? Ever try to buy something from yourself, or are you just taking it for granted that it works? Or worse, are you believing your own instructions?

Challenge: Be your own customer at least once a month.

In these “trying” times, many customers (yours and mine) are struggling to maintain volume, profit and productivity. Somehow the stimulus package and bailout have not yet reached them — me either. How about you?

Reality: Each of us is responsible to stimulate and bail out ourselves, in spite of what you may be hearing.

If and when your customer calls or goes online, they expect instant answers, instant service and instant delivery of whatever they need — or they will seek a competitor.

And your customer expects multiple options to connect with you, any time of the day or night, to get the help they need or purchase the product they need.

Reality: The customer’s need is your opportunity. Your challenge is to turn them into a happy, loyal customer who is willing to repeat the purchase, tell others about it and refer others to you — not to “satisfy” them.

Here’s what to do to self-insure your own success:

1. Call your business five minutes before you open and try to place an order or get service.

2. Call your business five minutes after you close and try to place an order or get service.

(That should be enough to make you angry — but wait there’s more!)

3. Go online and try to buy something on your Web site. How long does it take (how many clicks compared to Amazon’s one)? 

4. Call your business during the day and complain to someone. Then ask for the person’s boss — or even your CEO. Make certain you have plenty of Pepto-Bismol on hand — because I promise, your stomach will be turning upside-down.

4.5 Now call yourself and listen to your pathetic voicemail that tells the caller everything he or she does not want to hear, and does not tell the caller the one thing he or she does wants to hear: Where the heck are you?

Reality: Whatever your experience is when you call yourself or try to buy from yourself online, that’s what your customers, your life-blood and your money-line is experiencing. Ouch!

Fix it fast. Your customers need you.

Free Git-Bit: If you want an idea to eliminate the silly computer that answers your phone before and after hours saying how important your call is, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the words ANSWER LIVE in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com.

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