Monday, March 9, 2009

More business mistakes

Some experiences this week have made me question the basic abilities of many business managers to get the basics right, so here are some more of my tips.

1. Answer the phone
Why would you not at least have a voicemail message? If you are a small business (as I am), then you can't always get to the phone, but a professional message and a prompt call back can work. Alternatives may be to forward your landline to your mobile, although this means having to remember to do it every time, or using a virtual assistant service to ensure a professional image at all times. I can recommend a couple of companies if you need pointing in the right direction.

2. When you call back, remember this is potentially a sale
Don't ask "Who are you, I had a missed call from you" because it sounds like you are suspicious and not used to customers calling you. Work out your own script, but make sure you sound like you are ready to do business and welcome the call!

3. Websites need information
I know it can be a pain to update things when they change, but you really have to do it. Websites aren't a static advert like a magazine, people want to see more than just a generic description. products, prices, offers - get them on there! I'm looking at lots of printers' sites at the moment to compare costs, and the ones that give no indication of pricing will not be getting a call from me. If you need an easily updatable site, try these people (I know the consultant for this area, and he's very helpful)

4. Information should be accessible
Don't make people register in order to see basic information. Registration is for people who are serious about finding out details or communicating further. If you won't show me what you do without me telling you my Grandmother's eye colour, I'm not interested. The web is so much about broad brush research, why eliminate yourself from a shortlist by making site visitors jump through hoops?

5. Proofread
Please. Especially if you are a media, marketing or publishing company. Otherwise you might as well stay in bed tomorrow.

6. Measure results & think about what they mean
Let's say you decide to reduce the price of your widgets from £1 to 50p. After a week you say "Whooppee! We have sold twice as many widgets as normal!" But you had to process twice as many sales, for the same amount of revenue. Fine if you just wanted to shift excess stock, but if you wanted to increase income - you didn't achieve your goal.

I'm no high-flying guru, but I have worked in enough businesses to see the basic mistakes that get made when people are focussed on other things. That is why it often makes good business sense to outsource the areas in which you are not expert.


  1. Spot on Lisa.

    Some basics of customer service often forgotten.


  2. Some great advice Lisa.
    Re item number 2 - always google the number first that way you can find out the company and a bit about it. If you’re the one who left a message I always shoot the person a quick email saying I called and that I’d appreciate a call back when they’re not too busy or offer to call them at a more convenient time. Nothing worse than speaking to people when you’ve no idea what they’re on about - pre warned is pre armed!

    Totally agree with the proofreading too - better yet get someone unrelated to do it as sometimes when you’ve spent your time writing it you don’t always see the mistakes!

  3. Rachael, sending an email is a great idea if you have the email address. I shall add that to my armoury!

  4. Lisa, this is totally spot on - practical straightforward advice for SMEs. Paying attention to detail is so important.

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