As part of my catching up operation (see below), I’ve been registering for trial accounts with online services that look relevant to businesses. The responses have been interestingly varied. Here are four.
On the dog ‘n bone
A salesman from Company A rang to see how he might help me further. I told him I’m an industry analyst and that my blog gets syndicated to several thousand readers.
I then said that if someone from his company would like to tell me more about it and its products, I’d be happy to do a write-up in the blog. (It’s what I say to most companies I don’t know.)
After a little more conversation about what I do, he ended by inviting me to ring him if I needed anything and wished me a merry Christmas.
A salesman from Company B rang to see how he might help me further. The same spiel as before from me.
His response was to offer to send me some information and to invite me to ring him if I needed anything further. His email, with links to some online resources, arrived within ten minutes.
Dealing with disappointment
Now, I well understand that hearing the phrase “industry watcher” can be a downer for a salesman trawling for prospects. I sometimes hear the enthusiasm drain from their voice when I tell them.
Nevertheless, the more intelligent, or better trained, among them realise there’s still potentially some value to their employer in trying to influence an influencer, no matter how minor, or at least in not blatantly losing interest.
The man from Company B falls into that category. He did and said the right things. They matter.
I would still write about Company A, of course, but they’ve some ground to make up. Also, their salespeople should learn not to make prospecting calls from an office where their colleagues have seemingly just returned from the pub. I was overhearing a loud and expletive-ridden conversation all through the call. These things matter, too.
Company C emailed me to confirm my registration within minutes of my signing on. The next day, its CEO emailed a message of welcome, inviting me to contact him or the company’s support manager if I had any problems.
I had also signed up to use the service from my BlackBerry, so got a second message on that. Both probably came from a software robot but that’s not important. They give the impression that the company cares about my registration.
Company D had its sign-up page out of action for several hours when I went to register. Is that supposed to happen with cloud services?
When I did get through, the promised confirmatory email didn’t arrive, so I tried again. Same result.
Nearly a day later, I got three email messages confirming my trial of the software. They included a link to some support pages if I need help and told me: “This e-mail was generated automatically. Do not reply.” That was presumably intended to make me feel warm and tingly all over.
I think you can work out who gets a thumbs up from me, who a thumbs down and for whom I have it just below the horizontal.
That’s not the end of the story, of course. There would be much, much more to consider if I were evaluating these suppliers for a client. (I’m not always open about that at first, by the way.)
First impressions count, though. If, say, two companies scored more or less evenly on all other aspects, how they initially dealt with me – or you – could tilt the decision.
There is also a reminder here, if one were needed, that using social networks is only part of the story when dealing with potential customers or their surrogates. One way or the other, the old-fashioned channels are still powerful tools in creating a company’s image.
Technorati tags: company image, customer relations