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Check yourself out


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How good are you, really?

Be your own customer and find out, really.

Yesterday, I got the shock of my life: I tried to buy something on my own Web site and couldn’t.

I buy all kinds of things on other people’s Web sites. I’m a one-click buyer on Amazon. I’m a PayPal customer. I have my credit card registered and saved on every site that will allow it. In short, I trust the Internet.

If I decide to buy something online, I want to buy it fast. I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about filling out an online order form (where all the boxes say it’s “mandatory” to enter my information).

Many of you subscribe to my weekly e-mail magazine and have taken advantage of the “deal of the week,” a special offer on a bundle of my books and CDs. Last week, we decided to present something for the first time – a $20 discount off any of my upcoming public seminar tickets.

So I went to my own site to test the offer. I put in a request to buy five tickets. The Web site (my Web site) promised a fast and easy purchase. And that promise was ANYTHING BUT the truth. The process was a pain in the butt. I clicked off of my own site in frustration and disgust.

I immediately pulled the offer, and we went through an e-commerce exercise that brought me back to reality. We revamped the purchasing process to where it IS fast and easy. It’s now fixed for the short term, and we have a long-term plan in place to make it even faster and easier.

MAJOR CLUE: Had I not tried to buy something from my own Web site, I would have never known. I would have danced along actually believing my own words, never realizing that customers were frustrated and, worse, not purchasing.

How’s your site? Think your e-commerce is great? Ever try to buy something from yourself, or are you just taking IT’s word for it? Or worse, believing your own instructions.

CHALLENGE: Be your own customer at least once a month.

In these trying times, many customers (yours and mine) are struggling to maintain volume, profit and productivity. Somehow the stimulus package and bailout have not yet reached them – me either. You?

REALITY: Each of us is responsible to stimulate our own business and bail out ourselves, in spite of what you may be hearing.

If and when your customers call or go online, they expect instant answers, instant service and instant delivery of whatever they need – or they will seek a competitor.

And they expect multiple options to connect with you, any time of the day or night, to get the help or product they need.

REALITY: Their need is your opportunity. Your challenge is to turn them into happy, LOYAL customers who are willing to buy again, tell others and refer others to you.

Here’s what to do to self-insure your own success:

1. Call your business five minutes before you open and try to place an order or get service.

2. Call your business five minutes after you close and try to place an order or get service.

(That should be enough to make you angry – but wait, there’s more!)

3. Go online and try to buy something. How many clicks does it take compared with Amazon’s one?

4. Call your business during the day and complain to someone. Then ask for the person’s boss – or even your CEO.

4.5. Now call yourself and listen to your pathetic voice-mail greeting that tells me everything I DO NOT want to hear, and DOES NOT tell me the one thing I want to hear – where the heck are you?

Fix it fast. Your customers need you.

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