I narrowed my options in a software category to two choices. Both offered 30 day trials, one even boasting that the trial could be started without a credit card.
I selected the one I knew had been in business much longer since both had roughly the same service offering as far as I could see without knowing the category. (This is the marketing part. If one is superior, the other marketers did a tremendous job causing the services to appear equal).
My software was going to work with a well known company’s website. Both services required me to allow them to link to that company’s site and access my information there. With my choice made for the older company, that’s what I did.
And received a failure message.
Like someone impatiently pushing an elevator’s up button to summon the car, I tried to link the service and the site at least four times. I began getting error messages and quit, not wanting the original site to think my account was being hacked.
But at 6:30, I tried one thing. I wrote tech support. This company was smart enough to open its help ticket platform to everyone so even though I had never given them a penny, I was able to describe the issue and ask if I had done something wrong. It was either past the end of the business day or near enough throughout North America.
Beep. My email popped with a response asking for more details. But it was a personalized response on top of a template. I answered back and Kyle, the employee, and I went back and forth in email like you do sometimes with an old buddy when you’re having a conversation and you’re both too lazy to pick up a telephone.
By 7:00 p.m., Kyle diagnosed the issue. It seems someone whose identity I’ll cloak but whom I share many emails with trialed the service more than a year ago. They didn’t really do much with it, and I didn’t even know they had trialed it. Kyle was emphatic that I keep the original account. I know the cues and signals he was giving me, and I went with his judgment.
Crisis Averted. Now What?
But could the trial be extended?
That was pushing my luck too far. Kyle suggested I sign up for a monthly plan in lieu of a trial to minimize risk.
I waited no more than three seconds. In that time, I thought of the competitor’s free trial still open to me. But would they have their own Kyle? Because no matter what else was behind this organization, if tech support’s culture was one of customer and prospect first, wasn’t it just worth a single month?
I told Kyle I would take the offer. And then I told Kyle what I just told you in a short email. I named the competitor and told Kyle to show it to his boss, giving them both validation and ammunition to executives that amazing service and competency is a combination that will often trump any other combination.
Your takeaway as a small business leader is to work constantly with the people who interact with customers and potential customers. Throw away the nonsensical notions of not spending a lot of time on people just looking around. They can be your strongest advocates who remain your customers at increasingly high margins with great word-of-mouth for years.