Do you really want new customers? No really, DO you?

Stop making it hard for people to become new customers

Mixed Signals
image credit: ZeroOne

Just about every business I have had contact with in my life says they want new customers. If you are one of the many business owners or employees who are looking for new customers, are you SURE you aren’t making it difficult for people to become new customers?

I have a friend (who shall remain nameless), who is engaged to be married. Her fiance and his family are members of a religion (that will also remain nameless). My friend has attended services, done lots of research and was considering going through the process to become a member of this religion. When she called a local chapter to hear more about the process, she feels she was treated like a freak for asking basic questions about the organization. Her questions were laughed at with the tone of ‘how could you NOT know the answer to that’. When she inquired about having personal contact with the head of the church she was met with hostility, ‘why would you ever want CONTACT with him?’.

Member (customer) lost.

She didn’t know any better. She wanted some answers and to be involved in what would be a major change in her life. She was met (by multiple representatives of the church) with hostility.

Now I read the headlines, just like you. Churches have declining numbers. They want more members. So why when a very interested, intelligent woman who is an outstanding member of the community wanted to be a member was she met with such estrangement?

New customers mean getting to know new people

New customers are just that, new. They have new problems that they need help with. They have new businesses you may not have worked for. They have new one-of-a-kind problems and experiences to bring to this new relationship. As a business providing a product or service we are supposed to be making their lives easier with our knowledge, experience and products. We should be making it easy and convenient to do business with us. Are we?

Here are a few things to consider to make sure you are making it easy for people to become new customers:

  • How are you letting new customers get to know you? – As we know, people are researching products, services and businesses online before they reach the next part of the buying phase. Does the content on your website help people get to know you? Is it an accurate reflection of what they can expect when and if they choose to do business with you? What kind of content can you add to make your website more educational for would-be buyers?
    • About us – Your About Us section should be less corporate speak and more about highlighting your staff members who may or may not be handling future clients.
    • Who to talk to – Who to talk to pages are becoming more popular. A list of possible topics a user may have a question about and the direct person to contact to help them. These are more personal than general contact forms that may not be reaching the right staff members.
    • FAQ sections – Many of us get tired of answering the same questions over and over but for the person asking, it is their first time asking and they deserve the most helpful answer you can give them. Maybe adding a FAQ section with links to resources for more information can alleviate some of that stress for both parties
    • What do other people say about you – Testimonials are always good for web content. Help new customers relate by learning how you helped another business like theirs. You should also have an ear to the pavement to what people are saying about you on review sites, social networks and blogs. When people are researching you there is a good chance they will do some research in their own online network as well.
    • The longer someone is unsuccessfully looking for an answer on your website, the more apt they are to try another resource (like your competitor). [Shameless plug] If you need help getting ideas for how to make more content for your website, Jenika has a webinar coming up that talks about just that.

  • If someone wants to pay you for their services, it probably means they know they are not an expert in your field – If they were an expert, they wouldn’t hire you in the first place. If they were an expert they would know the right questions, vocabulary, phrases to use but they aren’t, so don’t scoff at them when they approach you. They are reaching out because they want to know or they want to pay you so they don’t have to know.
  • People communicate differently – People communicate, process, learn and share information differently. You may be strictly an email person but your target audience are phone people. You may be a blogger at heart but your users are visual learners. Brainstorm different ways you can get your message out. Perhaps an online demo will resonate with your audience better than a whitepaper.
  • If people don’t know how to work with you, they might not – Let people know why they should work with you and make it crystal clear HOW to get the process started. Every page of your website should have some type of call to action. When online researchers are collecting information make it very easy for them to know what the next steps would be.
  • Respond sooner rather than later – The general consensus is that we as humans now want our information much faster than before. A web inquiry that sits unanswered for a week is probably a lost opportunity. Fine tune your process so that people know when they will hear from you and make sure you adhere to that deadline. Another user tip is to optimize your Thank You pages on web forms. Instead of the generic ‘we have received your inquiry’, add some content that could help them. Some good things to include in a thank you page would be links to whitepapers, blog entries, company directory, webinars and more.
  • Have a target audience but be a resource – I am an advocate for having a target audience or really going after a particular niche. Define your niche but compile a list of resources to refer people to. We here at Hall have our strengths but we also have an internal document of other providers that we are comfortable referring leads to. We know the strengths and offerings of those businesses and have a rapport with them. After speaking with a sales lead, if we decide we are not the right fit, we can send them in the right direction. This is a great way to build yourself as an expert in your field and foster good relationships with other businesses in your industry.

This is just a list that I came up with from my own experiences in business. I would love to hear from you on things you are doing to make it easier for new customers to find you and start working with you.