In business, which is more important, efficiency or effectiveness? The people at Four Paws Design seem to think the answer is efficiency. Via Seth Godin, Laura points us to the answer to their FAQ’s eighth question:
Q: I do not want to place an order online, help!
A: Unfortunately, we can no longer take phone orders. Customers forget to tell us something and after the order is placed and processed they claim we wrote down incorrect information. By placing an order online we have a record of exactly what you want, especially for custom-designed items, leaving no room for error.
Excuse me? You can’t hire and train the right people to take the correct information over the telephone and so you’re blaming your customers?
I think they’ve confused efficiency with effectiveness. In this case being efficient in order taking could hamper their overall effectiveness as a business.
I´ll grant them that some of their orders require customization, but to me it´s a matter of hiring the right people and training them to communicate effectively with their customers.
By not answering the phone they’re limiting their opportunities to build customer loyalty. They’re also losing any opportunity to cross or up sell.
They hired an employee with great telephone (and listening) skills?
They trained her on their product line, suggested ways for her to help customers “accessorize” their original orders? “Oh we have a lovely XYZ that will perfectly complement your order. Let me tell you a little about it?”
During her slack time, she called customers back to see if they had received their orders and were satisfied?
Perhaps she could mention a few new items as well.
They mention they’re a small business. With an attitude that deliberately limits customer interaction, they´re likely to STAY a small business.
Be very wary of limiting interaction with your customers even in the name of “efficiency.” Many retailers have cut back on sales staff (and their interactions with customers) only to see their sales fall. Efficiency (utilizing your resources with a minimum of waste) is important. But Peter Drucker will tell you effectiveness (making progress toward your business goals) is more important.
Update: While I was focusing on the strategic, Mary @ Mary’s Blog was focusing on the tactical. If you’ve got an FAQ, or are planning to create one, read her post.