In a recent post, Seth Godin asked an important question I think every business owner needs to answer : Why You? Why Now?
Lets face in most product categories, but certainly in internet services we have choices. When it comes to Email providers, web hosts, and customer relationship management software , the smart business owner should ask a potential resource: With so many choices, why should I choose you?
When I started my business I gravitated toward the lowest price, most business owners do. But after a few interactions with low cost providers, typically when something went wrong, I learned my time had value. So now, when I evaluate online tools and resources, I have several criteria which are more important than price.
- Does the product fill my requirement. While there are a number of CRM tools available today, I use AddressTwo, because it was designed by someone who ran a business like mine. The headings, fields, dashboard organization and make sense for me.
- Can I figure out how it works without reading a long instruction piece, or having someone walk me through it. I don’t have time for long demos in the middle of the day. And although I can read ( quite well actually) I don’t want to take the time to wade through the instructions. Software as a service, should be self serve. The user interface should be intuitive. I will be willing to invest time for advanced features, but give me the basics. My favorite example of simple user interface: Constant Contact (I am all about the local, and I hate the fact that I can’t endorse any our of Indianapolis based eMail companies, but I haven’t found anything as easy to use)
- People Powered Technical Support. When I am considering signing up for an on-line tool, one of the first things I do, before giving them my credit card, is call their support line. I want to know how many sequences of 2,3,2,1,1,1,1,1 # I must hit run through before I get a live person. And when I do, are they working off a script, with a specific set of questions, or are they capable of listening to mine? Call online form builder’s Formstack technical support or Provim and you will see what I mean. Real people, with the ability to understand your questions. While GoDaddy has gotten better, the wait is still too long, and the amount of information you have to have just to get a question answered is often unreasonable.
These are my “why you, why now” criteria. Maybe I am not your target customer. If I am not, feel free to ignore my opinions. But don’t assume you know the decision criteria for your customers. Take time to ask your customers why they chose you, and improve your delivery on those aspects and price will become almost irrelevant.