I had a frustrating small business experience this week that I thought might be a great opportunity for discussion here--or at the very least a reminder to us all to pay a little closer to attention to our customers during this busy season. I'd love to hear back from the group if you have opinions about how this scenario played out.
While attempting to purchase gift certificates online through a small business website, I ran into a bit of trouble. I noted that this small business had a contact page, though. So I sent an email to request clarification.
Basically, the gift certificates they offered were for workshops or classes. In order to complete the purchase online, I had to select a specific workshop time from a drop-down menu, effectively registering my recipients for one of the offered classes. Now, if I was actually going to the classes myself, this would probably be the perfect online shopping experience.
But I didn't know the recipient's schedule, and I didn't want to make assumptions about when they would be available to attend. So I sent an email through the contact page asking if there were another way to purchase gift certificates for my recipients without being forced to select the day and time they had to show up. I wanted to give them the certificates, then have them call or sign up online when it was convenient for them to attend one of the workshops.
Two days later I received an email from the owner of the business essentially saying, "Yes we do offer gift cards. The link is here. Let me know if you have any questions."
I thought: Wait a minute, I already knew about the link. (Duh!) And of course I have questions! Why didn't you answer them?
I was frustrated. Did she even read my email, or did some robot service pick up the words "gift certificate" and spit out an auto-response? Did she just skim the email, not realizing I had more complicated problems that required her input? Either way, my inquiry didn't feel like much of a priority
Even if I had to select a specific workshop for my gift recipients, I might've done some investigative work to find the best time for them. But I was already turned off and ultimately decided on another gift, dropping the workshop gift certificate idea entirely.
Photo Credit: pirshulet