Scaring kids who come to your front door on Halloween night can be fun. Scaring away customers, however, could haunt you with lost sales. If you're committing one of the following five common mistakes, your customers could run away screaming.
1. Your website is as dated as a vampire’s tuxedo.
Some small-business owners are so proud to get a website up and running, they never bother to update it. Just like any element of your marketing mix, your business website needs regular review to make sure it’s still current. If your site still has Flash animation, delivers a “25 percent loaded … 33 percent loaded … 47 percent loaded” message to visitors, it’s probably time to make some changes and move into this decade:
- streamline and simplify your site's navigation
- make sure your Web design jibes with your brand strategy
- include links to your social media presence.
And, please, whatever you do, make sure make your website is mobile-friendly.
2. Your frontline employees are as friendly as Freddy Krueger.
Do your sales staff act like customers are an interruption to their personal conversations? Does your front desk clerk talk on the phone while ringing up sales, or heave a peeved sigh when someone asks for help?
If you’re not sure what’s driving your company’s sales down, try enlisting a few friends or family members to act as “mystery shoppers.” Have them check out your business’s service and report back honestly. Let employees know your standards for customer service and that if they don’t make the grade, they’re welcome to leave. When hiring a new employee who’ll be in contact with customers, look for someone with a friendly, positive attitude.
3. Your email marketing campaign just won’t die.
Like a zombie attack, some email marketing campaigns keep coming ... and coming. Email marketing can be one of the most effective tactics in a small business’s arsenal, but you can easily overuse it, especially as the holiday shopping season approaches and you ramp up your outreach.
Review your email and website analytics carefully to check your email open, click-through and conversion rates. This will give you a sense of when you’re overloading your customers with emails. Make sure your emails clearly indicate how to unsubscribe—and when customers want out, let them go.
4. You surprise your customers, but not in a good way.
Some surprises—like discovering a monster under the bed—can be thrilling in a scary movie, but unexpected surprises don't usually make customers happy. If you fail to meet a customer's expectations, don’t deliver an order on time or sell poor-quality products, you'll not only lose existing customers—the stories they’ll spread about your bad service will frighten away prospects who might have done business with you.
5. Your storefront is just plain scary.
Who wants to visit that rundown, cob-webby haunted house on the hill? No one. If your business location has a shabby exterior, poorly marked entrance or lackluster signage, no one will want to visit your business, either.
Take a good look at your physical location:
- Does it have adequate outside lighting and parking?
- Can your sign be easily seen from the street or highway?
- Are the parking lot and common areas clean and well maintained?
- Is your window display enticing, and do you change it often?
Keep your business clean, warm and inviting, and people will be more likely to keep coming through your door.
Read more articles on customer service.
This article was originally published on October 31, 2014.