Lowering the Barriers to Doing Business

We all learn a lot from other people’s experiences and from stories. Let me combine the two.

I’m in Miami about to return to Boston. I've been on a boat scuba diving for a week. My hair is burnt and fried. I'm at the Airport with about 90 minutes to spare.

Looking around, I notice a hairdresser shop. I need a haircut. But before I go in, I check my pockets to see if I have any cash - I don't. But I really could use a haircut.

So, in I go and ask, “Do you take credit cards?”
 
Well, I may as well have been from Mars. The woman looked at me with disdain. “Certainly not,” she replied.
 
So, I now have an interesting decision. Do I stay and present a 30-minute mini-training program on why you should not put up barriers — why you cannot make it too easy for people to buy things? Or do I leave?
 
I left.
 
Why on earth would she not accept credit cards in an airport? Because, like so many companies, she was putting up barriers to doing business.
 
Many companies make it so hard for people to do business with them. Yes, they’re well-intentioned, perhaps. But those intentions are so misdirected.
 
Take the hairdresser as an example. She probably didn’t take credit cards because someone (her accountant?) had told her that you have to give four percent or whatever the number is to the credit card company. How silly is that? Here we are worrying about the four percent and forgetting completely about the 96. It simply doesn’t seem like a good business bet.
 
Barriers go up all over the place. Take the phone as yet another example. When someone calls, do they have to “go through the hoops” to get through to you? Is there the quite unnecessary interrogation? Or are the barriers down, as they should be?
 
By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational, and fun to do business with you, you will lift your company above your competition.
 
Remember these important points:
 
§         You cannot service too much.
§         You cannot educate enough.
§         You cannot inform too much.
§         You cannot offer too much follow-up and follow-through.
§         You cannot make ordering too easy.
§         You cannot make calling or coming into your business too desirable.
 
But let’s apply an important caveat. You’ve heard, of course, that the customer is always right. We don’t think that’s absolutely true. We believe in this:
 
The RIGHT customer is always right
 
So, in some way, you may want to segment customers so that they experience what we might call “appropriate levels” of service.