Every day we are making enquiries. We do so because we need more information to make better decisions. In the world of business, customers make many enquiries. Often, they do so as an initial step of the buying process. These enquiries should ideally lead to a sale. Enquiries received in person, via the phone, on email, through the website contact page, or via different social media channels, require a follow -up. A customer who enquires is closer to buying than a customer who we need to cold call. When a customer makes an enquiry, they expect a prompt response. Unfortunately, I have noticed that so many enquiries go unanswered. In most cases, making a simple enquiry about a product or a service is a painful process.
Why would any smart business ignore enquiries? Why would a business intentionally cause its customers so much pain as they try to buy? Why do sales enquiries go unanswered? Why does a customer walk into a shop unnoticed because the staff is busy scrolling through their phone? Why do emails go unanswered for days? Why ignore social media enquiries and still run a digital marketing campaign? Why seek to attract new customers when we cannot serve those we already have? I have no answers to these many questions. However, every leader whose business is a culprit needs to give the answers.
Most customers can relate to the pain of making enquiries. As a customer, I have walked in and out of a shop without attracting attention. Some 2020 emails and social media enquiries are pending response, and I doubt they will get one. There are also calls made with intention to buy, many had no callback. These inefficiencies emanate from unclear processes on work allocation especially the seamless management of enquiries. In some businesses, it is not evident whose responsibility it is to respond to enquiries. Some enquiries are forwarded to group emails with no call to action by a specific person. In others, social media sites lack monitoring. In addition, staff are often not fully equipped on how to respond to enquiries. I witnessed a case where the business had no idea what happens to the contact made via their website. On following through, we found out that the website contact form linked to an unattended email address belonging to the website designer. For years, the businesses had missed many website enquiries. In another business, a staff created social media accounts using a personal email address and did not handover on exit. As a result, social media enquiries remained unattended.
It is crucial for businesses to feel the pain of a lost sale and a lost customer. Business leaders need to focus on building a business that is responsive to its customers’ needs. Responsiveness will see sales revenue go up and, customers becoming more loyal. Often, business leaders focus on the financials and forget about the process of generating revenues by closing a sale. When enquiries are not handled effectively, a sale is immediately lost and a customer may be lost forever. How is your business handling enquiries across the different channels? Is there a communication gap? Is there a conclusive follow-through of every enquiry? Choose to take action today!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy