‘Open For Business’ or ‘Just Closing’?


Interested in booking a conference weekend, I recently stumbled across the answer to all my problems. An internet search led me to Unique Hotels4You*. It had a very professional website, excellent imagery, easy to access information and, in one quick glance, I concluded this company would find my conference venue for me AND it would be fantastic. I was delighted.

The ‘contact us’ tab listed three numbers belonging to Sarah* or Kym*, the company directors, who would be happy to discuss my event planning ANYTIME.

The first number rang through to an answer machine ‘Hello, this is Sarah…….I’m now out of the office until Thursday 8th January…’ No problem. I would try Kym on the second number. The call went to an answer machine ‘Hello, this is Sarah…….I’m now out of the office until Thursday 8th January…’

Mmm, perhaps Kym was on the third number? I dialled….and you guessed it: ‘Hello, this is Sarah…….I’m now out of the office until Thursday 8th January…’ My hopes were dashed. Clearly I was not going to tick off ‘find conference venue’ from my list today. Or at least not with the help of Unique Hotels4You.

I don’t begrudge Sarah a holiday, but why have three numbers and two directors listed if all roads lead to the one closed door? Also, why would such a professional business (my assumption from the website) be closed during what must surely be one of the busiest weeks of the year? I got the message loud and clear. WE ARE CLOSED!

Whether it’s online, in a store, or in a restaurant, how many times have you browsed looking for that perfect gift or enjoyed a last drink after an excellent meal, and witnessed staff cleaning/packing up, re-stocking or generally ignoring your existence? How many times, after dialling a number in the late afternoon, have you been made to feel unwelcome by the tone of the receptionist, specialist or supplier to the extent that you can almost hear the words ‘you want what? It’s 4.45pm!’?

Does your customer lower his/her expectations during the twilight of the working day, or do you offer excellent customer service regardless of the time?

How much business is lost in that last hour of the day? Or the holiday period? How can you ensure you invite your customer back or give them the warm welcome they deserve?

With the dominance of social media and the use of search engines, if you have a website your business is open 24 hours a day. So how will you deal with the enquiries that come in when you are not at the end of the phone? If you want the business you should be available or you should get back to them within a very short timeframe and you should ensure THE CUSTOMER KNOWS THAT!

If you REALLY want the business you’ll make it attractive to the customer to come back to you, to call again. Think outside the box. Offer incentives, make the customer interested enough to actually want to speak to you or try again for your personal contact.

Whether your business is a physical premises or online, make sure that EVERY customer is valued and appreciated, whether it is 9am, 4.55pm or 10.55pm.

Open means open.

*names have been changed!

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