It might seem like an unlikely connection but let me explain.
Last time Kate and I were in the UK we decided to book a tour of the Royal Albert Hall. Like most of us my first stop was the website, but that is where things got wobbly. No matter what I tried it would not let me book the tickets. There was clearly some fundamental bug preventing this. Certainly it was the intention that you could book tickets online but it just did not work and in fact was quite confusing.
We did go on the tour by going to the booking office in person and buying the tickets there. But we almost didn’t because it was “too hard”. We mentioned the website issue and the person behind the counter said something like “Oh yeah, the website’s a shocker, sorry about that. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard hey.”
So what’s my point?
It’s this: You must make it easy for your clients to do business with you.
Or they won’t.
This extends across all elements of your business. If your clients are SME’s you can be pretty sure that the owners are time poor and really do appreciate you making it easy for them. Some of the areas this extends to might include:
- Providing information to you
Do you very clearly spell out by way of a checklist what you expect your client to provide for year-end tax returns, monthly accounts or whatever else you are doing for them?
Do you provide an easy to use portal for them to upload information?
- Pricing of services
The easiest for the client is a fixed price for an agreed scope.
They don’t want a plus, plus approach that ends in a nasty surprise.
It is why in my business, even when I am travelling to client offices, I have a fixed all-inclusive price that includes any travel and accommodation costs I may incur. I fix the price and carry any risk so it is easy for the client. (And it is much appreciated.)
- Paying your bills
Does the client receive the invoice electronically with a link to click on for simple payment?
Or some other user friendly approach such as a monthly automatic charge to their credit card?
I still sometimes see invoices where it takes quite some time to figure out how it is to be paid. Crazy!
- Tax and other advice letters
Is your advice written in plain English and well-structured to support comprehension by your client?
In my experience this takes great skill to achieve but it can be done.
It is not about being easy for you, it is about being easy for the client.
- Getting support
This is a biggie – think telecommunications, software and big businesses. How hard is it to have a sensible conversation with a real person to get your issue resolved? Often incredibly hard.
Don’t let this happen to your clients. Spell out to each how he or she can communicate with you and train your team accordingly to manage communications. The reality is that the more your clients speak with you the more likely they are to give you more work. (More on telephone communication another day.)
I’m sure you can think of many more examples and when you do please make sure in each case you have made it easy for your client. Or indeed your potential clients.
For your prospects it must look like you are easy to do business with and for clients it must be the day to day reality.
If it is not easy to do business with you then, in a world where there are plenty of alternatives, people quite simply won’t do business with you.