It was Sunday morning and I suddenly realised that after the distraction of a busy week I hadn't brought a gift for my wee nephew's christening. I have a habit of leaving things to the last moment and tend to derive some sort of perverse pleasure from the adrenalin rush of urgency.
The christening was to kick off in half an hour - so what to do?
I suddenly had an inspired idea that I would purchase a photography portrait gift voucher and started thumbing my way through the Yellow Pages for inspiration. The adverts included photographers that traded from bricks and mortar on the high street, however it was 9.30am on a Sunday, so most would have been closed or a few would open from 10am.
I then came across the name of a photographer that I recognised as a Facebook friend. He did not trade from a static storefront and his advert simply had a website address and a cell phone number. I didn't have time to browse the website so I was grateful that the cellphone number was an instant hotlink to who I wanted to speak to.
After a few rings and cursory introduction I was able to select a photography option and within minutes a PayPal invoice and the gift voucher magically appeared in my email in-box as promised.
After I electronically paid the PayPal invoice by credit card and printed the gift voucher I was sorted!
So what can we learn from this?
- It is really important for businesses to be always accessible to their customers. Those that snooze will lose.
- Technology is great, however perceived problems can be quickly overcome person to person and the human touch is still important. Talking to the business owner (or at least someone that knows what they are talking about that can make instant decisions) is empowering.
- Social media is a great introduction, however my end lead was via traditional paper-based media (Yellow Pages).
- While a customer is hot it is important for businesses to have the tools to instantly extract money from them. PayPal was used in this case as an effective method.
- Exceed expectations with effective use of technology.
- Make it simple!