South African Entrepreneurs: Why is it so Hard to do Business with You?

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Remember that time you really needed that service done to your car? You called to make an appointment and the voice on the other end promised to call back but never did.

Or that time the boutique was out of stock of an item you just had to have, and you watched them write your details down in that black book they all have that you suspect is used to swat flies with, because you have still not heard back from them.

The Myth

As South Africans, we’ve all heard with a sense of nationalistic pride how the world is so impressed by our work ethic, and how in-demand South Africans are because we have a service orientated mentality.

“I’m from a third world country,” we shout at the hapless shoe salesperson, “And we have better service where I’m from.”

Really?

The Key to Success

63% of small businesses fail within the first two years.

Surely it can’t all be the economy. Is it possible that we actually suck when it comes to keeping our clients happy?

Here are 8 things to implement into your small business to help improve customer experience and sales.

1.     An SMS is Good Enough

When somebody reaches out to you via sms, do you ask for them to send you their details via e-mail so that you “have them on your database”? Or do you ignore it and think “if it’s important they’ll call”?

An sms is a sale waiting to happen, and you spurn it at your own cost.

2.     Reply to E-mails and Calls

I’ve lost track, and a few years I’m sure, waiting for people to get back to me when I’ve sent a query. As a consumer, I often get the impression that they simply don’t care.

Especially those web forms that are so popular these days. I just know I’m not going to hear back from anyone this century, or this lifetime for that matter.

As the business owner, you should grab every lead with both hands and bend over backwards to convert those leads into sales.

3.     Get a Credit Card Machine or Snap Scan

Are you a handyman, plumber, electrician, personal trainer, garden service, or any business that offers a personal service direct to the end user? And I bet you demand cash on delivery, don’t you?

Retailers without a credit card machines just upset me. I have money in my pocket that I want to give you! Make it easy for me to spend with you.

At least get Snapscan – it’s super easy for customers to use and you won’t be turning customers away anymore, or send them searching for the closes ATM.

No hassle, no fuss, and no waiting for EFT’s to clear.

4.     Listen to Your Voicemail

This is a problem a lot of us have. In this day of instant messaging, e-mail on smartphones and the like, actually listening to your voicemail messages just seems so last decade.

Reality check: not everybody out there is comfortable with today’s technology, and I can guarantee you that their money is as good as anybody else’s.

And then don’t forget to call them back!

5.     Get a Virtual Office Assistant

As a small business, you may be little more than a one-man show, and no one person can keep everything together all the time.

Consider outsourcing your admin to a virtual office assistant. Not only are you lightening your own load, but you are, in turn, empowering another small to medium business, which is always a good thing.

6.     Follow Up

You’ve quoted a client, and you therefore believe you’ve met your end of the bargain. The ball is now in their court, and if you don’t hear from them again it’s because they weren’t serious clients in the first place.

Verkeert! The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most oil, and you must remember that these people have money to spend. They want to give you their money – it’s up to you to make the effort to convince them that you are the guy who deserves it the most.

Follow up on your quotes and don’t let those fish get away.

7.     eCommerce Sites: Allow for Credit Card Payments

The user experience when you want to do an online purchase and they expect you to pay via EFT because they haven’t got credit card facilities is a deal killer. I have never, ever, never purchased anything online via EFT. Although I know many South Africans prefer EFT there are a bunch of us that don’t.

If you’re not sure how to go about it, give us a shout. We’re really good at building and upgrading eCommerce websites.

8.     Don’t Force Loyalty

If somebody is willing to give you their business, don’t make it an unpleasant experience by getting bureaucratic on them and trying to enforce unreasonable notice periods.

Good customer service is usually rewarded by good word of mouth feedback, and releasing unwilling customers from antiquated contracts will give you a really good reputation with your customers.

Remember, there’s power in giving in order to receive, so have a magnanimous view instead of a small minded one and your business will grow accordingly.

If you follow these basic steps, and you offer an affordable, reliable service, then there is no reason at all that your small business shouldn’t succeed.

Good luck and keep up the good fight.

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