A website doesn’t just have to earn you money it can help you save money too. It seems most people focus on getting a website to help them increase sales and money however with a little thought and planning websites can also help you make significant savings.
Reduce Phone and Reception Costs
Reducing the time your staff spend on the phone helping customers is a sure fire way to reduce expenses. Here are some of the ways you can help reduce this telephone time.
List Basic Information on Your Website
You can vastly reduce the time your employees are on the phone answering common questions by including that information on your website. Basic information such as store locations – including maps, opening hours, addresses and telephone numbers are a must.
Answer Common Questions with a FAQ
Another great tip is to create what is known online as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page where you can provide answers to common questions your customers ask you. You can then encourage customers to visit your website for answers to these common questions. Promote this in your marketing literature, advertising material, recorded messages and by reception staff. Of course you need to emphasis that if they can’t find what they are looking for they are welcome to call you – we’re not trying to discourage contact just reduce it where we can. I’ve found that customers love this sort of information – don’t forget it saves them time and hassle as much as it saves you!
List Stock Availability Online
Don’t just display descriptive information about your stock on your website – list it’s availability as well. Even down to what location has what quantities. As well as reducing the time your staff spend on the phone looking this up you are making your customer’s lives much easier. There’s nothing worse than a customer travelling all the way to a store only to find out that the item they want is out of stock.
Include Your Prices On Your Website
This one is a pet hate of mine. If you are going to the trouble of listing all your products on your website why not include the prices? One large store chain once told me it was so their competitors couldn’t see their prices. Great – so they’re prepared to inconvenience a customer so their competitors can’t see their prices. Although those competitors could always call or visit a shop, ;-) I really don’t get this one – the beauty of the internet is you are not limited by space – show as much information as possible. It will make your prospective customer’s life much easier and help you get the sale.
Include Detailed Product Information
My husband and I are currently shopping for baby furniture and it really frustrates me if I cannot get all the product specifications from a company’s website. It would make my life so much easier and save the company from having to look up the information each time I call. I suspect I am not the only one calling so multiply my questions by hundreds if not thousands and that’s a lot of time you could save.
The sort of detailed product information I would like to see includes:
- Detailed photographs – including front, side and rear views. It’s also vital that your photos are of high quality and can be zoomed in for a closer view.
- List colour options and include photographs of the product in the different colours it comes in.
- Item dimensions – height, width, length, weight and whatever else is relevant to the product.
- Instruction manual.
- Product reviews.
This is basic information that prospective customers need to make up their minds, so have it all there for them.
Reduce Printing and Mail Costs
Every business knows that printing and mail form a large part of your expenses. However if you use your website smartly you can reduce these costs significantly.
Online Forms and Documents
Where at all possible encourage your customers to use your website to download the information and/or forms they are after. This is often extremely convenient for them and as a bonus they are using their own printer, paper and ink not yours and you save on postage. You can do this for a range of printed materials including forms, manuals, product brochure, sales catalogs and so on.
Use Online and Email Newsletters
If you have been mailing out newsletters to keep in touch with your customers it’s time to stop. The same newsletter can be included on your website or sent out via email, or both, for a fraction of the cost. You can also set up your website to enable prospective customers to sign up online.
Use Your Website to Promote Sales and Specials
Rather than post out brochures and catalogs promoting sales encourage your customers to visit your website on a regular basis to check for any promotions or sales you have. Of course you can include an online, electronic brochure for them to download. You’ll also find that customers often forward the catalog onto their friends who they think would be interested in your products and services – giving you more ways to reach new prospective customers – for no additional expense to you.
Reduce Support Costs
Another great way to cut your expenses is by using your website and email to provide support services.
Provide Support Information on Your Website
I remember I lost the manual to our clothes dryer a few years ago and instead of having to call the company, get put on hold, request one be sent out, wait for it to arrive, yada, yada, yada I simply went to their website and downloaded a copy. So easy. Easy for me and easy for the company – they didn’t have to take my call, source the manual and then post it out to me.
There is a wide range of support documentation you could include on your website:
- Instruction Manuals
- Troubleshooting Guides
- Software Drivers
- Returns & Claims Forms
Provide Support Via Email
Email is a convenient, easy and efficient way of providing support to your customers. It can also help you cut expenses by:
- Reducing staff costs – one staff member can easily handle a number of enquiries at the same time.
- It reduces your phone bill, especially if you offer 1800 numbers.
- It increases customer satisfaction and loyalty – they get fast responses and resolution of their problems.
- Answers can be stored in a database so common questions don’t have to be re-answered from scratch each time you receive them.
These are just some of the ways your business can reduce it’s expenses by utilising your website and email. And I’ve not even touched on online marketing and promotion.
Some of these systems will take some time and effort to set-up but once they’re in place they can be used over and over and over again saving you money and providing satisfaction to your clients. That sounds like win, win to me.