4 Small Business Lessons from my experience with Clickatell.com

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Hmmnnn, can I really say I am one of those using the Internet to make an impact? I leave you to be the judge of that, maybe not now but in the days ahead.

Talking about Impact, Google and Facebook are 2 companies making great impacts online. I was happy to hear of Google’s clamp down of sites doing all sorts and SEO firms using ‘blackhat’ techniques to rank, read about it hear. Thumbs up Google for levelling the field a bit!

Did you read the post Pointing out South Africa’s clickatell.com anti-Nigerian Policy? Well I wish to inform you that it has produced some positive results, which I am proud of….

Clickatell.com has informed me of their willingness to accept my Naira mastercard which they had earlier rejected.

Now, what is important for me is not just the fact that I have attained a personal objective (which is to use their central API, something I am not sure of continuing with anymore) but the fact that I have started something others coming behind can leverage upon whenever they need to use their services.

That said, I want to stress that clickatell.com is a serious and forward looking company, which they have proven with the way they have handled this case.

They have kept in touch using all of the following means;

1. They have put 2 calls through (at 2 different times)
2. They have sent a couple of follow up emails
3. They have also stopped by this blog to leave a comment.

Am I impressed? Yes I am. Am I still pissed? Yes and No, Yes because this was totally avoidable and No because the company has done everything humanly possible to show that they are a listening company and that I respect.

What are the small business lessons from this experience?

1. Never be too proud to admit when you are wrong.

Clickatell.com is a medium-to-large IT company in many regards and could have as well called my bluff. What would I have done? Maybe write another one or two posts at most and that would have been it. So the lesson here for a small business is that you should not lose sight of the fact that you exist to serve the customer, however, big or small you are/become.

It doesn’t hurt to say I am sorry!

2. Follow up.

Most SMEs have issues with adequate follow-up. We (CFA Leverage) aren’t exempted, for example in the month of March, we sent out proposals in excess of $20,000 to numerous prospective clients but we managed to pull in less than $3,000. This is a typical example of how poor follow-up hurts small businesses.

If clickatell.com did not effectively follow up on me, I probably would have been writing another post castigating rather than commending them.

Create adequate follow up mechanisms!

3. Leverage technology.

I am so fascinated about Technology, hence the founding CFA Leverage, which represents our passion to help individuals leverage the Internet.

I want to commend clickatell’s use of technology and the Internet. Let me explain, My plan when I wrote the 1st article about them was to send the link to their management staff, officials of the NCC and any other person who cared to listen. I told members of the CFA Nigeria blackberry team of my intention and I was advised that the best way to approach it was to write, SEO optimize it and then leave it for them to discover it via Google. I took that advice and never mentioned it to clickatell.

But to my utmost surprise, clickatell.com found the post and left a positive comment stating the solution already proferred, rather than trying to justify their actions/inactions. I am not sure how they found the post but a basic and free tool that I use always is Google Alerts. It gives me the opportunity to know the much I need to know about competition.

I have set Google Alert to inform me whenever keywords such as SEO Services, Social Media Marketing, SEO in Nigeria etc. are mentioned. This way I can easily work hard to stay ahead of the game. (I know I am letting out my strategies but it’s all part of the Internet game – no one is loser)

Let CFA Leverage help you leverage the Internet effectively!

4. Use Incentives to your favour.

Yes, it is permisible to bribe (not in that sense) your clients if you have to, as longer as you are certain you are doing the correct thing.

The last email I got from clickatell.com is an offer of discounts whenever I am ready to start buying from them. This part I admire so much, as it’s part of giving your customer that WOW experience.

My joy will be full only if and when clickatell.com boldly accepts credit cards issued by Nigerian banks as a show of confidence in the Nigerian people and her economy. I rember that a number of well meaning people discouraged me from pressing on and asked me to simply look for alternatives, my response was that they don’t understand.

Don’t wait until there is trouble to offer your (prospective) clients an incentive.

What do you think about this experience with clickatell? Do you think I missed out any lesson?