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Do you guys have any guesses as to which industries people prefer to phone as oppose to just buying online?
The factors that I can come up with are:
- phone number is visible on all pages
- older demographic prefer the phone
- high order amounts so people feel safer phoning
- business was/is a mail order company
- people need more info
Yes, we try and reduce phone calls by turning the questions and answers into web content.
So we are adding aprox. 400 to 1000 words of new text a day .... which it turn triggers more web traffic ... which in turn generates more phone calls and web orders.
Like somebody and myself has mentioned, a phone call is an opportunity to close a sale and possible add more product to the order.
We can handle the phone calls so it really is not a big issue. The people who are taking the phone calls are also the people who invoice the orders and pull the product out of inventory.
[edited by: Rugles at 6:51 pm (utc) on Mar. 26, 2007]
as far as your opinion it may fit your business but
I wasn't discussing my business, I was discussing other people's businesses I used to fix before I got out of the ecommerce consulting business.
Besides, I wasn't suggesting NOT to take orders over the phone, I was just suggesting you ask people if they had issues with your site and correct them is all. If they call giving good service is the only thing to do, but it never hurts to find out why they started on the site and ended up on the phone.
My only point was that taking orders by phone is more limiting to easily ramping up sales growth than the seemingly endless capabilities of your average website. One website can take way more orders per hour than a couple of people sitting in an office. A good site typically does the work of 15-30 people taking orders or more. You can afford to grow a company much quicker when you don't need to add 15-30 more call center people, and all the equipment, seating space, benefits, etc., that was my main point AND it's a lot of lost profits too.
There is a whole generation out there that still likes to do business via telephone.
Then there are people like me that would prefer to shoot themselves vs. spend what seems like an eternity giving an order over the phone to someone that keeps getting your credit card rejected because they didn't type in the name, address or card number right and wouldn't you know it the email verification never arrives because they got that wrong too.
> older demographic prefer the phone
Most of those calling sound older so I would agree with that.
Only problem with toll-free number is that too many call for help. One guy a week ago calls "I just go your software and installed it. Now, what do I do?" RTFM (Read the Friendly Manual). This is very infuriating when the same person calls a few times a day for a day or two for simple things. Plus, he could have downloaded and tried the demo. Ugh!
7 or 8 years back, you got silly calls (at least that seemed silly to the more experienced) just because folks didn't know any better.
Now, the silly calls are from people who have absolutely no respect for anyone else's time - just as you said, they're too lazy to RTFM (or even open the cover) - makes you wonder how they actually get through life in general.
As others have pointed out, as your business grows, so do the problems.
99% of folks are great, it's those other 1% that make you want to hang yourself with your mouse cord.
1% of 100 orders = 1 problem a month.
1% of 1000 orders = 10 problems a month.
1% of 10000 orders = 100 problems a month.
Most important thing is to keep your sense of humor.
One is selling furniture, that is a high ticket item, and the other sells a product line that can customized to fit different requirements.
I track their online sales closely, and often call them to say the likes [ last month sales looked good ] and they always say, you don't have any idea how much phone sales we did.
They are getting better over time, converting the calls into cash.
Learning how to convert over the phone is important and not doing so is a lost opportunity.
As a result of this, I have sworn a blood oath to NEVER again do business with a company that does not provide a phone number. It's just a matter of respect for my time and for me as a customer. I'd be willing to bet that there are other folks that feel the same way.
[edited by: TonyMc at 8:35 pm (utc) on Mar. 31, 2007]
We removed the phone number from prominent display... call levels continued to grow... we began charging to process telephone orders... calls continued to grow... we removed all telephone numbers (except in email confirmations, damages/returns section etc.) and stopped processing telephone orders completely. We now only accept orders online, and get a few by fax and post.
We took the decision we didn't want to service every sort of customer segment possible, just the ones who are comfortable ordering online. They tended to be the cheapest to service... and in return we offer them very good value for money.
Those who require telephone ordering tend to go to our competitors, and are consequently charged a higher price to cover the cost of provision. There is plenty of business to go around... we're not greedy... we don't want to be jack of all trades and master of none...
We still get lots of phone calls from customers who want to place orders by phone... we turn them all down... no matter the reason... at first it was surprising to see orders placed online from customers who just 30 minutes earlier had claimed that their computer was broken etc. etc.
... the fact is you can't satisfy all the people, all of the time... its been better for us to focus on doing what we do well.
We think we've made the right decision... short/medium term sales growth has been sacrificed for a leaner, more pragmatic business model which offers long term sustainable growth.
We think that taking telephone orders does offer faster growth potential. However over the longer term, the cost of servicing a customer base who you have made reliant on this form of ordering could become a threat to the business. Overheads which are too high, price offerings which are no longer competative, and the realisation that the business has also become hopelessly reliant on this type of customer... but as I say... it's not for everyone.