Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.
Carlyle is right. And the lesson applies to small business. Many small business owners don’t know how to use the tools they already have at their disposal. I’m not talking about sophisticated systems and applications overflowing with complexity. I am talking about user-friendly applications designed to increase communication.
A few years ago, I participated in a webinar with a company via Webex. The guy running it (call him Eric here) was pretty aggressive about letting people know it was going on. He emailed me (and I would presume everyone else) multiple times. We went back and forth with different versions of the PowerPoint slides. It was quite the chore.
Then we went through a practice run. I had asked Eric some questions about the Webex setup. He didn’t know the answers and said that he’d “figure it out.”
Then came judgment day: the day of the webinar. Sadly, Eric stumbled because he didn’t know the basic functionality of Webex. He never bothered to follow up and learn how to use the tool properly. So the presentation was clunky, and many people appeared uninterested. I’d wager that none of these people bothered to sign up for another one of Eric’s webinars — and most probably removed themselves from his mailing list.
Here’s the rub: the same thing happened to me twice over the next few months with different people hosting podcasts. They weren’t sure about how to operate the console or dashboard from which they were recording. Adding insult to injury, they didn’t bother editing the final product before publishing it. A few minutes with a free tool like Audacity would have made all the difference in the world.
Customer attention is a precious commodity–perhaps the most precious. Users grace you with their time when they could be easily doing something else. No one is wanting for content today. We have way too much to consume. To help make your content and company stand out, follow the advice below to make the most of customer communication tools:
- Do your clients and prospects a favor: understand how to use the tools beforehand. Not adequately preparing for a webinar, speech, or podcast is a recipe for disaster. You only get one bite at the attention apple.
- Respond when they reach out. Waiting four days to approve a comment on a blog or acknowledge a retweet is far too long.
- Listen to the negative as well as the positive. Don’t dismiss criticisms, especially if they are valid. They may make your product or service better in the future.
What say you?
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Phil Simon is a recognized technology expert and writer. He is the author of several books including, most recently, The New Small. He can be followed at http://www.philsimonsystems.com/. Phil is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.