[This article was written by Jason Milleisen.]
We all know how excruciatingly difficult it is to find a way to separate yourself from the competition. Everyone claims to have the best product, the best service, or the lowest price.
As a consultant, my biggest selling points are my comprehensive blog and my high level of customer service. Even with these formidable attributes, I’m constantly wondering what else I can do to separate myself from the pack.
Before I tell you what my little hack is, let me tell you what else I tried that didn’t work.
On-site chat seems to be all the rage these days. For those who don’t know, it’s usually in the form of a little chat window that pops up when you are visiting a website. There’s usually an audible prompt to let you know something’s happening, followed by a chat window popping up and saying something to the effect of “Welcome to our site, what can I help you with today?”
When I first came across this concept, I thought it was amazing. To be able to speak with the company at the exact moment I had a question was genius! Why wasn’t everyone doing this? And why wasn’t I doing this?
Because I’m wary of committing money to technology that I’m not 100% sure will be useful to me, I opted for a free WordPress plugin. To their credit, it was really easy to install. Download the plugin, make a username and password, and you’re good to go.
They have an app that you can download onto your phone, which I really liked. At Dairy Queen when a customer wants a fee quote? No problem! Taking a calming bubble bath with your favorite rubber ducky when a prospect has a question? I can handle it!
The Honeymoon Ended Quickly
After a couple of weeks, I realized that the chat feature was bringing me more headaches than customers. If I wasn’t responding within 30 seconds, the prospect was gone. Sometimes the app was slow. Other times I was on the phone, and simply couldn’t do two things at once. For a one-man show, it was simply too much to juggle.
The final thing that convinced me to get rid of chat? I started using it on other sites, and it was really annoying. First, it would pop up every time I went to a new page, nagging me over and over. Then, when I did try to talk to them, I’d sometimes get a message that there were unavailable…infuriating!
And with that, chat on my site went poof.
A Better Solution Was Right In Front Of My Face. Literally.
I didn’t want to give up on the idea of being available to my clients (or prospects) when they needed me. Now that chat was circling the proverbial toilet, I wasn’t really sure what else to do. I already have an 800 number, so that wasn’t the answer. So…what.
Then I hear a noise. It’s my phone. My wife was texting me.
My wife was TEXTING me!
Before you could say “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!” I was on WordPress adding a little widget that would show up on every page of my site. It gives the person to enter their email address AND it lists my cell phone number. “Call or text me any time” it casually offers.
Oh man, did it work.
Having people texting me is far superior to the chat feature for a few reasons:
- Everyone already has the ability to text. It’s already on their phone, and there is no learning curve.
- People don’t expect an instant response like they do in chat. If I reply within 5 or 10 minutes, people still love it.
- Once a chat is over or the person leaves the chat, I can’t get the person back. A text will go right to their phone, which means they’ll definitely get my reply.
With all that said, I believe this approach works for me because I’m in a business that requires me to have in depth relationships with my clients. As a workout consultant, my business is also low volume as compared with other business types, like retail.
If you are in a retail business that depends on volume, you probably don’t want 100 people a day texting you to ask if you have their size Nikes in red. But for me? I’m happy to get 10 texts per week from prospective clients.
Jason Milleisen is the founder and owner of Distressed Loan Advisors (jasontees.com JasonTees.com). Since 2009, DLA has helped hundreds of small business owners through the SBA Offer in Compromise process, resulting in over $50 Million saved. Jason is a former workout officer for the largest SBA lender in the US, where he oversaw a $400 Million portfolio of delinquent SBA loans.