I haven't got one but Jim does

Imagine for a moment that you’re shopping in the high street and you walk into a store looking for a particular widget but you can’t find it on the shelves, so you ask an assistant for help.

Consider these two possible responses:

Response one

The assistant scratches his head a little and looks a bit puzzled and replies,

“I don’t think we have one of those, sorry.”

Response two

The assistant pauses for a moment and then replies,

“I’m sorry, I haven’t got one but Jim does. He’s at store X. I’ll give him a call and let him know you’re coming over, can I take your name?”

Which response would encourage you to return?

Combining product and market knowledge with excellent customer service is a dying art but it’s perhaps one of the cheapest and most effective marketing tools available to you.

Don’t be afraid to get to know others in your industry and understand what they offer and refer custom to them if your enquirer’s brief isn’t an instant match to your offerings. This will bolster your client’s confidence in you, which in turn boosts your credibility.

They will come back because you served them well.

So how does this translate to the internet?

It boils down to your message – be clear about your service boundaries.

It’s highly likely that a percentage of your visitors will arrive looking for something that you can’t quite match or there may be a related or complimentary service or product that can better satisfy their needs.

Make it clear where your boundaries lie. If you can’t meet their needs, prevent an empty experience, recognise their need, and gracefully direct them to someone who can help.

You might not have made a sale this time but you will have served them well, creating a positive lasting impression.

Alex Adams

Alex has been designing, developing and managing software projects since 1998. He is a multidisciplinary developer and has worked with a number of languages, technologies and frameworks. When he's not developing, he's a busy husband and dad who finds a bit of time to train for triathlon events.

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