We lead, others follow
- This might sound like a bold claim but the reality is here
to be seen. Many little outfits have jumped on the bandwagon
and tried to emulate what we brought to the industry over a
decade ago -
Old Fashioned Service
So many businesses these days
have taken advantage of internet technology with little or
no regard for the level of service that once set people
apart. This is a matter we have not lost sight of and so
proudly boast a customer service ethic reminiscent of the
good old days.
Words however are cheap. It is
easy to claim anything you like. But the acid test comes
when you begin searching for a product or attempt to use the
internet for a purchase.
Q. Is the website user
friendly? Can you navigate your way around it easily to find
what you seek?
Q. Does the website offer you
means to make contact easily? You'd be surprised how many
don't even provide you with a postal address! What therefore
will you do in the event of a problem?
Q. Is there somebody on the
end of a telephone to provide answers to any questions you
may have or do you only have an email address as your means
of contact? An 'email only' business should be avoided like
Q. Are you being offered
'Price Matching' or 'Beat Any Price'? These are people you
really should stay clear of. If you can get a better deal
why are you being charged more from the outset?
Whilst the internet must be
considered a revolutionary development in communications it
has also provided an opportunity for lazy chancers to grab
at passing trade. Sadly there are those who simply set up a
website with a shopping cart and hope a few gullible
visitors might place orders electronically while they
themselves are out on the golf course. You think this is a
joke? Believe it! Operating from a bedroom many 'would be'
businesses operate entirely in this manner. By utilising a
shopping cart (which completely automates processes) the system simply emails a copies of your
requirement to the website owner and a merchant credit card
processor (someone like PayPal if indeed an account is held)
who deals with the money. The website can be made to appear
as though you are dealing with big business when in fact
there's nothing more than a PC in a bedroom belonging to a
golf fanatic at the other end!! There is of course the risk
that the contents of the website are fictitious and by being
offered blistering hot deals you will attempt a purchase,
giving away your credit card details in the process.
So how can you tell?
There are numerous ways to differentiate between the chancers
and professional businesses that care about what they do and
genuinely do what they offer.
Call the website by telephone.
Can you always get an answer during normal business hours?
Ask questions about the product/s that interests you. Ask
for advice. Can you get a knowledgeable response? Does the
person who you speak with sound enthusiastic and helpful? If
not, why not?
Then there is the 'shopping
cart' system. This is an interesting area of debate. Good,
or a recipe for trouble? Shopping cart systems on one hand
offer a simple method of placing an order and paying for it.
In a perfect world one might consider this as 'job done'.
However, the world is far from perfect so make sure you go
into your purchase with your eyes wide open.
When you confirm your
order/payment on a website shopping cart you set in motion
several actions. As mentioned, the system sends an email to
the website owner stating your requirement. Providing the
website owner has a merchant account with a credit card
factoring service/bank your payment is handled remotely. If
no such account exists the owner of the website now has your
credit card details.
Online security - This is
where potential problems may begin. Firstly, you are sending
your credit card details electronically over the internet to
somebody you must trust without knowing them. When you do
this the information could be intercepted or simply stolen.
As the information arrives at its destination it is stored
on a computer which by its nature must be connected to the
internet. Very few computer systems are protected entirely
from being 'hacked', so the chances are (if your destination
happens to be a PC in the bedroom of a part time businessman) the casual
trader won't have invested in sufficient security (security = cost) to
protect the computer upon which your information is now stored.
Your details are now open to abuse - card
cloning, identity theft etc. This is a major issue that card
companies take very seriously. A stereotype of this type of
trader is beginning to emerge - where he plays golf all day
and returns home in search of orders that may have arrived
in his absence. This type of 'business' is dangerous and
harmful to the industry. Essentially, they offer cut-price
goods because they only want to earn pin money to buy a few
golf balls. A real business has overheads and must pay wages
and often finds itself unable to compete on price with the
'bedroom trader'. You simply won't enjoy good customer
service from this type of outfit, so if you take a chance
make sure you understand what you are getting involved with.
The sad thing is this type of casual entrepreneur ends up
getting the Internet a bad reputation when in fact it is the
individual's attitude to business that is entirely to blame
- not the Internet.
That's only one concern! What
about the goods you wish to purchase? Do they actually
exist? Are they in stock, or do you consider the lead time
reasonable? Are you sure they are right for the job you wish them
to perform? Are they actually what you intend to purchase?
With all the confusing terminology in the world of heating
and hot water, have you correctly specified your
requirement? These are all matters that automation cannot cope with.
We are always on hand to help you through what can be a
anonymity of shopping carts might suggest simplicity, total
automation does in itself introduce the potential for error
and abuse. A shopping cart will not realise you are buying
the wrong thing, or notice that your purchase won't do the job
you want done. This is one of the biggest failings of this
new-found technology. It is also something to be exploited
by the 'less than honest'.
So, in short, while technology
must be embraced it will never be the final solution because
of many serious flaws. Shopping carts are unable to think.
We are constantly mindful of this shortfall and keen to
overcome this problem with as much help as you need.
Our organisation believes in a blend of old
fashioned service (you might remember back to the time when
somebody was on hand to give you advice before you made a
purchase) whilst embracing state of the art
technology. You can always contact a friendly member of
staff here during business hours. We always have somebody
knowledgeable on hand to discuss your requirements, give
advice and make suggestions. We invest heavily in
computer systems and security and you can place an order online,
but we NEVER ask you to send credit card details over the
internet. Once your order is received you will be contacted
by a member of staff who will firstly confirm your
requirements and their suitability (as best possible) for
their intended task and take payment details verbally.
One might consider such a
final step as retrograde but in reality it serves several
very practical purposes.
Occasionally we can detect
through conversation when an incorrect item has been ordered
(this is not foolproof but happens frequently). It also
gives us an opportunity to provide
additional information we feel may be of importance. Through
conversation we can often prevent an incorrect purchase and
do away with the costly inconvenience of you having to
return something bought in error. Conversation also gives
you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have or
seek advice - we are only too pleased to help. We do not
vary from this process.
Speaking with you also
prevents the need for your card details to be transmitted
over the internet - spoken instructions are considered far
safer than electronic transmission, so the risk of your
information being used fraudulently because of interception
are zero. As an added security measure your card information
is not stored on a computer connected to the internet - so
it is totally impossible for your details to fall into the wrong
hands as our system cannot be hacked.
As mentioned, we are proud of
the system we have developed and we know it works well.
All that remains is for you to
try us and see if our claims are good. We look forward to
hearing from you soon!