Are You Easy to do Business With?

Doing BusinessWe all like to think that because we’re marketers we’re the trailblazers at being easy to do business with.

After all, we’re fixated on customer experience. We’re all about making it easy (a no-brainer even) for the customer to say ‘yes’ to our pitch.

But are we really that good?

Two recent examples of not being easy to do business with

In this post on Google Webmaster Central I read some guidelines from Google on what we should do if we want their help with one of their products.

I’ve always been seriously frustrated by the fact that the FAQ’s and help pages in Google basically take you round in circles.

Getting someone from Google to actually support their products is like drawing teeth.

Heck – you’d think that a company that earned US$23.7 billion in revenue last year could afford to be a little more engaged in support of the products it puts out.

Anyway, the message in the article I referred to above was all about setting out your support request message in a forum so others can see and benefit from the exchange, and making sure you don’t SHOUT AT US.

The message was: if you do we’ll ignore you.

Which all sounds perfectly reasonable, unless you happen to be a Google Calendar user.

A month or so ago Google Calendar suddenly stopped sending me event reminders. Nothing had been changed, the reminders just stopped coming.

After some fiddling about I decided to delete and re-set the events for which I needed reminders on a regular basis.

And the new ones worked fine. For a month.

This week they stopped again.

So I hopped into the help pages and found a thread on exactly this topic.

It had been started more than a year ago and, at the time of writing, there had not been a single response from anyone at Google.

How can they wonder why people SHOUT at them if they don’t visit threads about product problems in the support forums for a whole year..!?

Anyway, I have bigger fish to fry so I transferred everything to the new Yahoo calendar. Let’s see if they can reliably issue reminders (so far, so good, by the way).

The second incident involves the WPTouch plugin.

I installed this recently but for some reason the menu (a drop down affair, supposedly from the right end of the header bar at the top of the screen) wasn’t there.

No button, nothing to click. No menu.

I spent hours going through the settings doing all the usual stuff. Restoring the defaults, then adding or changing and testing each option, one at a time, so I could tell what fixed it (if it had been fixed!).

Nothing. All the other changes showed up as expected but not the menu.

So I went online and searched. I found quite a lot of threads in which people were experiencing the same problem, but none of them actually followed through to a conclusion.

Searching the plugin’s support forums returned no results that helped, either.

Eventually, I found myself on a blog post that was extolling the virtues of the coding (I think it may have been for the premium version of the plugin), so I left a comment.

I explained my situation and asked if he could direct me to a thread that fixed it.

And I was directed to the support forum. The same one I’d spent a couple of hours trawling unsuccessfully the previous evening.

So I abandoned that plugin and used another one – which is working fine, so far.

What’s the Lesson?

My point is this: in the article on the Google Webmaster blog they make a very good case for why they rely on forums to provide support – but it all falls to pieces if no one from Google drops in for a year or more.

It’s little wonder that people GET FRUSTRATED.

In the case of the plugin, they have a premium version which I’d have been very happy to buy if the free version had been stable.

But not only was it not working properly, support was impossible to get.

So I’m certainly not going to risk buying the premium version.

They lost a sale.

It’s not rocket science

Being easy to do business with is not rocket science, but it does require some thought and focus.

Your processes for supporting customers or taking orders may seem very obvious to you. But that’s because it’s your business and you know it well.

A new customer doesn’t know your business or your processes. Whatever they need to do to get their problem fixed needs to be clear and easy to understand.

Because if it isn’t, they’ll simply buy from someone else.


Martin Malden

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fran Civile Oct 11, 2010 @ 4:00

    Good points there Martin! I have experienced frustration with Google’s reliance on forums … I believe they have come to rely on knowledgeable participants who volunteer their helpful answers!
    Your solution with dropping the free plugin experience you describe is probably one that many have used … I have a free WP theme with an unavailable developer right now and I asked you in an email for an answer to my problem … that solution might be called or sung “with a little help from my friends” 🙂

    • Martin Oct 11, 2010 @ 6:24

      Hi Fran,

      I was listening to Sergeant Pepper’s just the other day..!

      Yes – I replied to your email – long story short, just use the ‘More Tag’ to do what you’re asking. Details are in my reply 🙂