So this month I bought a summer house. I don’t know about you but before I buy anything I do loads of research so I can get as much info as possible and compare prices. This is where websites are really handy for helping you to make a buying decision. Or not – as the case may be.

There was one website that didn’t have any prices. It was a bit of a dog’s dinner anyway to be honest – poorly laid out, bad quality photos, links that didn’t work – but I persevered. Not everybody would have bothered but I REALLY wanted to know the prices. But, nope, they were nowhere to be seen. All I found was a terse message to ‘Phone for prices.’ I was naffed off and no mistake. You see, they weren’t being helpful, they were making me do the work to get what I needed. So I phoned them to complain.

A very tired-sounding man – the owner – explained. The price of timber kept going up and every time the prices changed he had to manually amend the web copy. It was so time consuming he’d stopped doing it. Well, okay, fair enough – but why not communicate the absence of prices with an explanation and an apology?

Maybe something like this: ‘Sorry you’re not seeing prices for our summer houses. The cost of timber is currently subject to change so please phone us for an up-to-date price.’

Or a more cheery, cheekier tone: ‘Wot – no prices? You wouldn’t believe how quickly timber prices keep changing so call us for an up-to-date quote.’

Personally, I would’ve been happy with that. I would’ve picked up the phone to make an enquiry (not just to give them a piece of my mind).

Mind you, the message could’ve worked harder. Seems to me the business owner also missed a trick by not letting potential customers know that prices were increasing and creating a sense of urgency.

‘Don’t see any prices? Due to Brexit, the cost of timber is currently rising fast – to secure your summer house before the next price increase call us today.’ Or even better: ‘Hurry! Order your summer house before prices go up next month. Call us to get a quote today.’

It always frustrates me when people fail to use their sales and marketing communications to, er, communicate. It particularly saddens me to see wasted opportunities on a website. You’ve got this fantastic online presence that’s perfect for talking to your customers, giving them information, answering their questions, helping them find what they need. Why would you want to leave them hanging and lose a potential sale?

So anyway, after the summer house man explained things we had a chat and I got some prices. He said he’d send me a brochure, which was helpful. He didn’t. Which wasn’t. I bought my summer house from another company. Next month, I’m looking for decking…

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PHOTO: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay