Fax machines ain’t dead yet. Especially in small businesses. But of course it’s not the machine itself that matters; it’s what it still does really well that does. I got a neat lesson about that not long ago.
Last month I had the luck of sharing lunch with one of our operations leaders while on a visit to our Canadian facility. He had just conducted a tour of his area that morning and was animatedly recounting the response he gave to the question about why there is still a healthy volume of faxed orders from small businesses.
“Here’s why…” he said and deftly picked up an imaginary order form, proceeded to circle an imaginary box, write in an imaginary quantity and then stick it into an imaginary fax machine. Done.
Sweet. Simple. Quaint even. So Easy.
And that is the point. For a small business, it is easier (and sometimes a heck of a lot easier) to stick with the old than go with the new “Easier Ways”.
Let’s take an online reorder of a product. Maybe it’s new name plates, or business cards or truck parts or whatever. And think about the online ordering process experience from just about any company.
In this typical small business you’ve got to find a computer you can use to place this order (it’s not like everyone at a small business has one readily available)…. open up a Browser….find the Vendor…. get past the “Sell” area landing page and find the Existing Customer area (you know up at the top right somewhere…. in the tiny print)….. find that Sign in button….. Enter Email address…. Login name… remember or dig for, the darned Password….. Place the order…. Verify…. Validate…. etc etc. Is it simple? Yes, for some.
But some find it “easier” to grab the reorder form that was mailed to them, circle a spot, write in the quantity and fax it.
Others find it easier still, to remember nothing at all other than the bloody company name, pick up the phone, talk to a human and place a reorder.
This isn’t a knock on web plays for small business; this is a reminder that “Making it Easier” is a critical factor for small businesses. And always will be.
Warrilow (a leading researcher of small business) often reminds us that the majority of small businesses are not early adopters of technology but I’d contend that is as much about how easy (or not) something new is to do versus how easy it is to do today as anything else- especially for small business.
So two easy questions to ask yourself when you are trying to provide support and solutions for your small business customer;
- How can your recommendation “make things easier” than the current product and/or supplier in use today? Write down those answers for your favorite products and embed them in your contacts and conversations.
- Is the reason a SB won’t budge or buy really because the solution will require “more work” on the clients’ part than they do today? (Even if just in the transition?) If yes, remove the work! Invest in whatever it takes to do this; the return you get versus price obsession or proving ROI will be significant.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.
2 thoughts on “Easy Still Needs To Get Easier”
YOU are right on point. Spot on. Nail on the head and all that…
We have a major customer who requires store managers to order their products. When we were told the individual stores would order we said, “We can do that. This is our e-mail address or, if you prefer, we can do an EDI.”
Um, no. The major customer–a nationwide pharmacy–doesn’t allow their managers to access non-company networks. They can’t email an order. So they fax it over.
We get it–sometimes.
We lose it–sometimes.
No one can accurately say what happens to missing orders.
But we know the store shelves are empty, the managers get grilled, the end-user shops elsewhere, and our sales force throws their hands up in surrender.
To me, faxing is great if I want to send an order for the latest Tears for Fears poster back to 1986.
Easy can’t compete with efficient.
Shout John shout, let it all out…. 🙂