Tuesday 28 October 2014

How a small business loses potential customers

On my list of things to do this morning in the office was to find a company who cleaned ovens in my area.

OK - I Google "oven cleaning" in my area. Great start - plenty to choose from. 

I start from the top of the natural listings.  No need to read all the content on a website. A picture of a dirty oven and then a clean one was enough for me. 

First company: not a great looking website. The only contact number is a mobile number. What are the chances that my call will be answered? I bet none. The call rang and then I was welcomed to a Tesco mobile voicemail. Didn't leave a message as my confidence in the company had eroded to zero. 

Second company: my confidence had improved - website, local number and mobile number. I call the local number, I get a get voicemail but this time it has a recorded message telling me that the guy is on holiday so I should leave a message and he will get back to me on his return. No chance. 

Third company: after my previous two experiences my confidence was at rock bottom, but this one's website had a mission statement and a local number which made them appear way more trustworthy. I call, but all I get is a voicemail. Out of desperation I leave my name, number and a message to call me. Five hours have elapsed and no return call. 

All three companies instantly lost a big customer. I have two ovens, a microwave and a six ring gas hob. If they had done a good job I would have kept their details and got them to come again in 3-6 months. I will never know though and neither will they.  

4 Easy Solutions to the above: 

1.     Never ever advertise anywhere with a mobile number only. You can get a virtual local landline number for around £5 per month (plus call charges). This can be pointed directly to your existing mobile allowing you to answer calls wherever you are.
2.     Use a professional recorded voicemail which is sent straight to your email, which you can pick up on your phone. If you don’t have a smartphone, get one.
3.     If you go on holiday get a virtual local number which can be switched to someone who can
 answer your calls and manage your diary, so you can come back and service your existing or new customers right away.
4.     If you are asking someone to leave a message say how long it will be before they get a call back e.g. 1 hour. Never lie about this. 


  1. All organisations - however big or small are creating experiences for existing and potential customers on a daily basis. It is as important for a company with one employee to consider the significance of their end to end experience as it is for one with ten thousand employees. To get it right is simple - if you are a one man band, experience your own product or service for yourself - call your mobile and see what it feels like. Try and find your brand online - was it easy? All businesses must regularly walk in their customers shoes to ensure that the experience you want to deliver is a reality.

  2. We couldn't agree more. You are so right - it is simple to go through every stage of the customer's experience yourself and work out what feels right and what could be better.

    Great advice!

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