View source: Jane Clark

Customers look for suppliers who are easy to do business with. While it’s hard to pin down an exact definition of what that means, there are some easily identifiable characteristics that are universally shared by companies who rate high in this category.

There are a lot of elements that go into making a business successful. It requires having the right products and services at the right price and the ability to get them to customers where and when they need them.

But beyond that, customers are looking for suppliers who are easy to do business with. It is hard to pin down an exact definition of what “easy to do business with” means, but there are some characteristics that are universally shared by companies that consistently rate high in this category.

They all seem to revolve around communication and cover a range of factors. It can be something as simple as not making the customer have to hit 15 phone prompts to get to the department or person they wish to speak with. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who wades through a laundry list of choices only to finally get to the person they want and discover that person is not available. If you use an automated phone system, keep it as streamlined as possible.

If customers leave messages or otherwise have a question for you, make sure to get back to them with an answer as soon as possible. When someone has a problem, they want to see it resolved quickly.

Your website and social media channels are other places people will use to find out about your business. Is the information accurate and up to date? Is your messaging consistent across all platforms? One thing to note, more and more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices so make sure your site is mobile friendly.

Different people want to be communicated with in different ways. Ask customers whether they prefer phone calls, emails or texts from you, and then use that method when you need to connect with them.

Do what you say you are going to in the time frame you promised. When you promise a customer that someone will get back to them in 15 minutes, make sure someone actually contacts them in that time. If you are not sure how long it will take for you to resolve an issue, tell the customer that but also promise to update them periodically on the progress you are making.

One final thought: A company that is easy to do business with doesn’t just wait for customers to come to them with problems. Set up a system to proactively contact your customers on a regular basis to see how things are going for them and to determine if you are meeting their needs. This is not a sales call, but rather a health check on the relationship and a chance to see if anything has changed with the customer and what they might need from you.

A big part of being “easy to do business with” revolves around open, honest, consistent communication.