Practical Ecommerce

Who Runs Your Business?

I love to cook. It’s something my husband knows well, and new friends learn quickly. Those visiting my home think I’m going out of my way, but to cook a savory meal, regardless of the time it takes, is how I relax. I’ve been known to make specialty pies I don’t even eat only to call the neighbors over to make their claims.

When I need a good cut of meat and I’m in a rush, I don’t even peruse the meat case at the store. I go right to the back and strike a conversation with the butcher. I leave with exactly what I want — a cut of meat they don’t even have on display, because of having a relationship with the butcher.

Know those that matter

It’s no different when it comes to ecommerce. Before my company even opened its doors, I set out to create personal relationships with those who mattered — the guys who make sure our server streams remain consistent, other developers I knew I’d have to call on and even the guy who hooked us up with our first Mac.

I’ve found that creating and maintaining personal relationships is key in any business, especially in ecommerce. Customers need to feel appreciated and know that you have their true needs in mind when you make a recommendation. While most of us are numbers in the world of others’ businesses, it’s not difficult to give personal attention in a single phone call (though I haven’t yet found a way to have a fruitful relationship with the telephone or cable company). Adobe does it every time I call; by the time I’m off the phone I feel like a friendship was kindled with the service rep.

What about your hosting company?

While many of us work hard at creating kind, heartfelt relationships with customers, we miss many of the links that make the business chain strong — the people behind the scenes. Consider your hosting company, for example.

A while back I encountered an issue of someone’s domain dropping right off the server. Following protocol, the client called the host. After 20 minutes of being told nothing wrong was found, my phone rang. A few minutes later we found the culprit. Of course, we had to make some phone calls, and about an hour later, all was finally back in place. I get these calls all the time — a server crash, lost files on a site or anything that’s just bad — and I wonder why so many online store owners look at hosting, security, SEO and accounting companies (among others) solely as the places you call to report a problem and expect a quick answer. I mean, sure you should expect quick answers to dire issues, but wouldn’t it be so much easier to get to know at least someone by name so if things aren’t being resolved you can utilize your people skills?

I never understood why people have a personal relationship with their doctor, their postal carrier, the UPS guy and their auto mechanic, yet can’t tell me the first name of anyone who works at the companies that handle key components of their businesses (which are supposed to pay for the doctor’s visits, shipping and car maintenance).

So, I am offering up a challenge. Take a few minutes to get on the phone and strike up a conversation with the people who make it possible for you to do business online. Find out who you can call when things go amiss, and be personal about it (hey, it’s a great way for you both to have a feelgood day). This is just another step in that big idea we call “preventative maintenance.”

Heck, I’ve even got a direct number for a guy who works for the state tax department. Talk about a time-saver!

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

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