Your business could be losing you sales. A customer explains how

Today I wish to share sales (or lack thereof) experiences, from a customer’s viewpoint. This is in the hope that business owners will take heed how to stop losing customers. Unless of course you want to debate the disadvantages of losing customers. No? OK. Here is a customer’s perspective on reasons why your business could be losing you sales. And what to do to solve the problem.

Being choosy about the payment method

I have been told these more than once. “Sorry we can’t take your VISA because the person who knows how to work the machine isn’t in.” “We don’t take cards for amounts less than Kes. 1,000.” “All card payments attract an extra 5% administration fee” (which they shouldn’t!). Upon prodding I’m told, “We have had many fraud cases so the owner banned usage of cards.” Or, “It takes time to claim from the bank (totally missing the point of card payments), so we levy the 5%”; and, “Using the machine is difficult na huwa haiyendi (and it doesn’t go) through”. Then I go to my favourite fuel station and with a smile on their face, they accept card payments from as little as Kes. 500!

I also hear, “hatuchukui M-pesa (we don’t accept M-pesa payments). Yet those who want sales don’t shoot themselves in the foot. They have a Paybill or Till number to deter unscrupulous individuals who (after, say, fuelling or paying fare by M-pesa) would reverse the payment. In a world that is going electronic and a country in the forefront of this (Kenya), insisting only on cash payments could hurt your sales. If this is you, try a new payment method for your business. There’s advantage to treating each implementation of a solution as a learning experience.

Read: Avoid These Sales Mannerisms That See You Shooting Yourself In The Foot

your business losing you sales

“By the book” Staff

I was recently told a story of a customer who loved the coffee from one coffee shop (call it C) but the meat pie from a separate competing one (call it S). So this one day he buys his take away coffee from C and goes into S, sits down and orders a meat pie. The waiter, following what the book says, ignores the request for the meat pie and instead tells the customer, “Sorry Sir, as the sign says there, we don’t accept drinks from outside.”

Fortunately, a separate waiter overhears the conversation and intervenes before the customer could respond and advises, “It’s ok, Sir, let me handle this.” And he goes into the kitchen, brings an S-branded, empty, take-away cup, takes the hot coffee in the C-branded coffee, and gently eases it (not pours it, lest it gets cold) into the S-branded cup. And now that the S-brand is trending, he proceeds to ask the customer, “Which meat pie is it that I may get you, Sir?”

Call it creative. I call it solution-oriented towards seeing through a sale.  Saying, “I’m not creative tends to limit learning.” Being solution oriented, hopefully, Waiter 1 will learn from this and implement it next time. After all, the last step of the problem-solving process is continuous improvement.

I witnessed a similar case from my bank last month. “The system is down” (the dreaded words were spoken). One cashier chanted this mantra to all the customers asking them to come back later. This other one asked if it was ok if he could M-pesa me the amount I wanted to withdraw when the system was back up which she anticipated would be within a couple of hours. My heart warmed up to her. “Of course, you may.” Ninety minutes later, tip tip my phone chimed. Ka -ching! The M-Pesa came in. Same bank, two counters apart, exact opposite approach to the same problem. Many bank staff reading this will cringe at the thought.

Read: Front office staff can boost sales and grow their careers

Absenteeism could be losing your business sales

There’s a chips shop I try to support as is next to my barber shop, thus allowing my son to eat while I get my shave.  I try, I really do. But they keep frustrating my attempts with their unmanned counter. So, while idlers, some customers and the salesperson (supposed to be) manning the counter chant GOAAAL! at the football match on TV, I hop over to another chips shop and soon my son is munching away at his chips while I have to wait for my haircut.

Could your business be losing you sales? The purpose of the analogies described here, is to assist business owners in solving the problem of any lost sales that can be avoided. It’s so easy to lose sales. It’s just as easy to mitigate this.

Read: Are your employees sabotaging your sales? Here’s what to do

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