What Web Designers Can Learn From A Florist
It took time before the editors approved this idea. I agree with their concern. 1WD (and almost all genuine blogs) have a plethora of inspirational articles that aspire to inspire readers like never before. Most end up as half-read, sometimes even by the loyal readers of that blog. Somewhere, something surely goes wrong.
I don’t know if I am aware of the original set of juices that conspire in the making of an inspirational punch but I can assure you that I won’t be trying to inspire you with the upcoming discussion. I really don’t believe in inspiring someone. See, if XX years of lifetime (where XX is your age) hasn’t been enough to inspire you then a 2000 word article cannot help you. And, please don’t tell me that you haven’t faced an hour of harsh reality in your complete lifetime which could have led you towards some form of inspiration. Moreover, you really don’t need inspiration if you are living such a comfortable life. Do you?
So, why a florist?
Well, I haven’t forcibly chosen a florist as the protagonist for my discussion. Things just happened and so did this idea. My friend wanted to plan a surprise birthday present for his girlfriend and we were busy searching for ideas. We zeroed down on the most simplest form of surprise because we are believers of simplicity (and also because we weren’t smart enough to plan something really innovative!) The pointers finalized were:
- Bunch of red roses.
- A 2Kg dark chocolate cake.
- Pack of best possible chocolates.
- Must be delivered at midnight.
- MOST IMPORTANT – No senders name must be revealed as she is supposedly living with her brother who has the habit of killing her sister’s lovers!
We are from India where online business hasn’t yet reached its peak like it has in the U.S. We should have started searching for the above services in stores nearby. Instead, we chose to go online because we consider ourselves to be ultra nerdy Internet junkies (and because we were pretty lazy and didn’t feel like leaving the comfort of our bean bag chairs even if it was to impress a girl!)
The journey begins
We started Googling for expected keywords like “flower delivery in India”, “midnight flower delivery in India”, “best flower delivery services in India” and similar stuff. Google was quick to introduce us to some of the smart SEO friendly websites. They had done their job well. An appreciable template with lots of options and plenty of keywords was enough to push them into the top pages of Google.
Again, we zeroed in on five services that aesthetically looked good. Below were the results once we had tried all seven:
- All these services were displaying a single cell phone number in their contact section. If you have a land-line number then it shows that you must have a physical office. In the case of a cell phone number it simply means that your office is just your website. Such service providers can take client’s money and run away without leaving traces. That is just one reason (and downside) of having no land-line number on your contact form.
- Three out of these five websites had the same contact address which meant that it was created by one nerd (probably a Black Hat expert) who had (somehow successfully) targeted three popular keywords and was bringing in a lot of traffic (and some successful clients too.) The end result was that all three cell phone numbers (from the three respective websites) were busy no matter when we would call. After all the receiver was one person who must have been shuffling around all phones or might even have redirected all calls to one phone. Who knows what all Black Hat he was up to!
- In one case the phone was picked up by a lady who would sound like the “mother” of Mr. CEO. No more comments!
- We were lucky enough to connect to a genuine number but their service was all messed up. The girl on the other side asked us to hold the line and came back after almost 2 minutes just to confirm that they do not offer midnight delivery. Crap!
When and how did we stumble upon the Perfect Florist?
It took a lot of keyword combinations for us to find a flower delivery website where it felt like our planned saga would come to reality. Here is the minute-by-minute replay of the aura that we we got lost in:
- A beautiful voice greeted us. She addressed herself as Janet. My friend had a crush on her voice even though he was looking to arrange for a surprise for his girlfriend. Comfortably confusing.
- We listed our requirements and she gorgeously confirmed that all of them would be met. Let me tell you that this was happening at 1 in the afternoon and we wanted the delivery midnight that night. Still, she was confident that the delivery guys will be faster than DHL.
- Our bank was facing issues with online payments and credit card transfers that day and we let her know this. She told us that her company has a lot of outlets around India and a few express service centers for the comfort of their customers.
- Luckily, one outlet was less than a mile away from our place so we confirmed that we would transfer the money there.
- She gave us the order number and we went to the outlet and paid for the flowers.
- The delivery was done successfully that night without the sender’s name being visible anywhere because she never asked for my friend’s name just to make sure that nobody leaves that with the bunch of beautiful flowers. To summarize, their database would still not have his name. The only thing they know about my friend is his phone number.
- And, the two lived happily every after!
What did we learn from the florist?
Now comes the real juice of this story. How could have I sit down calmly after our mission was accomplished? I am an entrepreneur by heart and I can’t let a successful business run smoothly without me being aware of what makes them work. So, I started searching. I questioned their staff, Googled a lot about them, visited their different stores in my city, called their call-center multiple times and tried to dig up as much information as I could. Here is what I learnt from this small business which seems to have grown simply because of their hard work and honesty.
1. Single Point of Contact
It is irritating to work with an organization where I have to explain my requirements whenever I talk to a new customer service rep. In the above case Janet called us multiple times for various confirmations. Those calls were short as she already knew what we wanted. I wish I could get her personal phone number *blush*
Similarly, your client will go mad if you are a company of multiple designers and the client ends up repeating job requirements every now and then.
2. Client Requirement is written in stone
What I mean is that whatever a client wants must be the final thing. You can of course discuss various changes when you are listening to your client’s requirements, but when the final list is wrapped up then it must be taken seriously. You do not deliver flowers at 11:30 pm when they’re supposed to be delivered at midnight.
Similarly, web designers should not skip a feature just because of browser compatibility issues. If you confirmed that you can do it, then you better do it.
3. Both, Online and Offline Clients are Important
You won’t always know how you get your business, or where it comes from. The tea stall in the store next to you might be searching online for a web designer even when you live nearby. With proper marketing one can really reach the untapped market of clients who are willing to shell out money for great results.
4. Do More Than Just Your Basic Niche
To be frank, the company that I have been talking about above specializes in flower delivery, but they have adapted with the times. They now deliver cakes, chocolates, stuffed toys, greeting cards and everything else that girls love. The end result is the expansion of their business. At times those looking for flowers only end up buying other items which is good for their business.
Similarly, web designers must specialize in web designing but offer other services like WordPress setup, basic SEO, Hosting setup and other innovative ideas. These won’t take much time but will give your clients the much desired comfort.
5. Do Not Lie to your Clients
If your client is looking for a module which isn’t possible for you to code then it is suggested that you tell the client. You can share with them that you would be willing to work with another party in order to complete that module. There is no problem in being honest. All that I can say is – stop being comfortably honest!
I did not want to tell you that a shining portfolio is important and you must use SEO to increase your client base. All these tips have already been shared over and over again. I wanted you to understand how an honest business continues to exist in between all the cut throat competition. If you are honest and you have the knack to satisfy your clients then you will have clients. Just. Be. Honest.