Is Your Brand Easy to Do Business With?

An important question for every business owner to ask themselves is: Are you making it simple for people to work with you? No huge surprise, but the brands that are easy to do business with are far more likely to receive rave reviews for their customer experience and cultivate relationships that keep people continually coming back for more.

Another way to think about this idea is:

Is your customer experience creating open doorways that are simple for people to walk through or building up brick walls that are likely to deter them?

Here’s an example from a recent experience I had with a local business…

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to take out from one of our favorite restaurants. It’s a bit of a trek to get there (40 minutes from my office and another 20 minutes home), but completely worth the drive time to their remote location.

I tried to call in our order as I was leaving my office, but no one answered the phone. Not a huge deal, so I got on the road and tried to call again while en route. I tried back several times while on my way there, but only ever got a voicemail saying that the mailbox was full.

I eventually arrived at the restaurant where a few people were waiting because seating capacity was still very reduced due to COVID. When I went in, I was greeted by a super frustrated and cranky server who told me they weren’t doing take out orders due to being understaffed. (BTW, I completely understand and sympathize with the staffing shortage that the restaurant industry especially is experiencing right now.)

I calmly told her I understood why she was so frustrated, but since I drove 40 minutes and called several times as well as checked social media for any sort of updates on services, I’d love to be able to place a small order and wait for it there. 

I was rudely told no again, and that’s also when I learned that they’d taken the phone off of the hook because they had no one to answer it.

At this point, I was also pretty frustrated, but I politely offered a couple of simple suggestions that could drastically improve their current customer experience and help to keep them from losing valuable business down the road when this situation came up.

  1. Update your voicemail or outgoing message to say something like, “Thank you so much for calling XYZ. We are not taking calls at this time due to a staff shortage. We will also not be taking take out orders, but we look forward to serving you again in the future.” Simple, quick, but also informative and shows that you value your customers.

  2. Update your Facebook or other social media with a similar message. It doesn’t have to be anything elegant or long. Just a quick and dirty post will get the job done and make it easy to do business with you when you have the staff to cover it again.

These two 5-minute actions would not only have saved me and other customers from the frustration of driving to a very remote area only to not be served but also would have saved the restaurant team from a lot of frustration of dealing with upset customers.

This suggestion was not met kindly, and I was basically told they didn’t care if this particular customer experience affected whether or not I returned to their restaurant.

Sadly, this all happened in October, and I still haven’t felt inclined to return to this restaurant that my family has loved for generations and a place we used to go to a couple of times a month. That’s not to say we’ll never return, but it definitely doesn’t feel like a way for my husband and me to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at the moment.

I highly value customer experience and service, and they more or less told me that night, they don’t care if I return. So why drive 40 minutes to a remote area when my business doesn’t matter to them? If they are going to put up those brick walls and take the phone off the hook, why would I give them my loyalty? 

All of this is to say that if you want to be a long-time sustainable company with raving, loyal fans (even when times get hard and you may fall short), you have to make it easy to do business with you. 

No business — whether you are brick and mortar or online —will ever provide a perfect customer experience. You’re going to mess up or be short-staffed or something will come up, and that’s okay. You’re human! But if you still create those open doorways and make it inviting for people to come back, they are going to forgive you and remain loyal. 

If somebody else had handled the restaurant situation with me and listened to my feedback or at least not met me with a huge amount of attitude and hostility, it would have changed everything. If someone had said, “I’m so sorry you drove all this way. I hate that we can’t offer you take out tonight, but thank you for the suggestions. We’ll keep them in mind as we continue dealing with our staff shortages,” it would have made all the world of difference. 

Sure, I still would have been annoyed and hungry, but also I would have been like, “No worries! I get it. Things are shitty right now, and we’re all just doing our best to make it through this pandemic.” 

Even in the hard times, even in the times with staffing shortages or times when your team is sick and you can’t get to emails fast enough, you can still be an approachable and gracious business. You can still be a business that makes it easy for people to work with you and provide a customer experience worth coming back for.

Because if you put up those brick walls, people are going to turn around, and they aren’t going to come back.

So, what does this look like in a digital business?

Here are some things to consider about your current customer experience:

  • How many clicks does it take to make a purchase on your website?
  • When I go to make a purchase, does everything work correctly?
  • Do you make it easy for people to give you their money and become your client?
  • Are you making them jump through 900 hoops just to get on a call with you?

The harder you make it for people to do business with you, the more likely it is that they are going to go work with someone else whose customer experience is simpler.

When you are approachable and make it easy to do business with your brand, you are showing people you value them. When you show your customers appreciation and compassion, they are going to do the same for you even when you fall short. So, avoid putting up those brick walls and getting defensive. Take ownership when things don’t go as planned, and you are going to build a brand with raving, loyal fans.