Is your company easy enough to do business with?

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Increase brand equity and customer lead generation, and keep your prospects from going to competitors by being easy to work with.

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Your products or services are often perceived by the market as being similar to those available from your competitors. As a result, being easy to do business with can set you apart, making customer lead generation easier, and making a big impact on your bottom line. It also enhances your brand equity, since every point of interaction is a branding exercise.

There’s a great deal of talk these days about building a company’s “brand,” but in reality, brand equity is simply an investment in ensuring that your prospects and customers have a positive experience each time they interact with your company or its products and services. And the little things, such as promptly responding to inquiries, do make a big difference.

As a B2B marketer, your job is to guide your company in providing the best possible customer experience at all points of contact.

With this in mind, I recommend that you take a hard look at your company from your prospects’ and customers’ points of view. The following questions will help you determine which areas need improvement. Determine what needs fixing, then get busy making it easier for people to buy from you. Customer lead generation will also get a helping hand.

Are you losing customers and business due to time zone differences?

For example, if your company is located in the West, what happens when a prospect or customer calls from Boston or Miami at 8 a.m. her time to request information or pricing, or to place an order? Or if you’re based in the East, what happens when a customer from Los Angeles or Seattle tries to reach your company at 4:30 p.m. his time? Odds are that no one is answering the phone, costing you a fortune in lost business-especially if your competitor are picking up the phone when the same customer tries them. Customer lead generation can suffer.

When calling your company’s 800 number, do callers reach a “live” person or are they immediately shunted to voice mail?

Once in voice mail, are they able to press “0” to immediately talk to a person, or do they get stuck in voice-mail hell?

On your Web site, do you keep prospects and customers at arm’s length by making them submit a “Contact Us” form or can they click on a rep’s name and dash off an email?

How easy is it to find your company’s phone number or a local contact? Can prospects or customers easily find directions to your business?

When people request information online, via your 800 number or by response card, how long does it take for your company to send out the requested information? Do you project a service-driven image by quickly responding to requests from inquirers, or do you let their requests accumulate until it is convenient for you to respond? With customer lead generation, it’s best to get the information to them right away.

How easy is it to request information online?

Do all your Web forms work? Do you force prospects to fill out long forms before they’re “allowed” to view collateral?

Do you send enough information to assist the prospect in moving forward with a buying decision, or do you restrict your sales information because you don’t want it to be seen by competitors or because it is too expensive to mail to all those inquirers? Does your response package include the names, addresses and phone numbers of the appropriate salespeople, reps, dealers or distributors, or do you make prospects call you again to find out where to buy?

The bottom line: Make it easy for people to do business with you. Not only will you increase brand equity and customer lead generation, you’ll also decrease the likelihood of prospects finding another company that has invested in these small but important areas.

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