The concept of accessibility may never have occurred to you. You might not even know what it is. Accessibility takes many forms and should be an important consideration in how you run your business.
Merriam-Webster defines the word accessible as:
Here are 3 things you can do to make your business more accessible to potential clients:
1. Establish Online Search Anchors so Prospects can Find You
Local Search Listing
If your business has a physical location, does it show up in a local Google search? To find out, Google your business name on the main search page and in Google Maps. Then verify that your business info is accurate so potential clients can find you.
If you don’t have a listing, setting one up is free through Google My Business, and you can add a description, photos, contact info, hours and more. All you need is a Gmail address or Google login credentials to get started.
One reminder – be sure to update your listing if your office hours, phone or location changes. You don’t want prospects to hit a dead end when trying to reach you.
General Business Search
How easily can your website be found online? Try this: do a web search on the primary search engines – Google, Bing or Yahoo – for the name of your business, or your name and a keyword description of what you do. Example: “Tom’s Happy Holistic Acupuncture Clinic” or “Tom Needleman acupuncture north seattle.” What comes up?
Any of these tactics may help, but once you improve your site’s SEO, keep in mind that a first page Google (or other search engine) result is not guaranteed. Achieving top search ranking takes time and work to achieve…but that’s another blog post entirely (stay tuned).
Contact Info on Your Website
Have you ever visited a website and been interested in the product or service, then couldn’t find their contact info? B’bye. That business just lost a potential customer.
People are busy and the majority of site visitors will not spend more than 5 seconds or one click searching for a way to contact you. If they can’t find it, they ‘ll go elsewhere and someone else will get the business.
Not listing contact info is one of the simplest and biggest mistakes people make on their website. If you’re a local business, include your phone number in the header or footer of your website, or better yet, both. Email address would be great too.
In addition you can add a Contact page with a built-in form that emails you when someone fills it out and hits Submit. Be sure to include the Contact page link in the primary navigation menu of your site so people can find it.
If you see clients in a physical location, be sure to list your office address prominently on your website (in the header or footer), and/or on your Appointments or Contact page. It’s also helpful to list your business hours so clients know when is the best time to schedule or engage with you.
Google’s search engine rankings now favor mobile-friendly websites, so if your site is not optimized for mobile, there’s a high likelihood web searchers will not find you. But what about people who search on their desktops?
According to Google, more web searches are now conducted via mobile than desktop. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you’re losing business.
If you’re not sure if your site is mobile-friendly, run this test or view your site on your mobile device to see how it shows up. If you have to pinch and zoom to see or read the content, it’s not optimized for mobile and needs to be upgraded.
Options for a mobile-friendly upgrade include adding a site plugin or redesigning your website from the ground up. There are many resources online to do this yourself, or talk to your web designer and they can recommend the best route for your time and budget.
2. Consider Offline Factors of Accessibility
Printed Marketing Materials
If you have business cards, brochures, flyers and the like, are your phone # and website listed on them? This is Marketing 101 folks. Here’s a story to illustrate my point…
A few months ago, I attended a networking event and met a lovely woman who was starting her life coaching practice. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and asked for her business card, which showed a beautiful logo and website address. Wanting to learn more, the next day I visited her website only to find a dead page (something similar to this…)
I looked back at her business card, and discovered it contained no email address, no phone number, basically no other way to reach her. Guess what? She just lost a potential customer.
Put your contact info and website URL on all of your printed materials. If you want more clients, make it easy for people to find and communicate with you.
Communication with Clients
Make communication with clients and potential clients a priority in your business. When you receive a message, return the call or email within 24 hours. If a potential customer has to wait to hear from you, they will go elsewhere or book an appointment with someone else who responds sooner.
When an existing client contacts you, do you get back to them promptly? Make it easy for clients to connect with you, and they’ll be more likely to schedule an appointment.
Ok so the next one is not technically an offline solution, but since we’re talking about making appointments, another useful feature to consider is online scheduling. The advantage with an online scheduler is that it saves time.
Clients and prospects can schedule an appointment at their convenience, and the system notifies you via text or email when that appointment is made. No need to play phone tag or email back and forth to schedule someone. Some platforms also send out appointment reminders on your behalf, decreasing the chance for no-shows.
There are a variety of online scheduling platforms available, some free and some at a reasonable monthly cost. I used Schedulicity when I had my practice, and loved it. An online scheduling button can be easily integrated into your website.
Accessibility for All Populations
If you work with people with disabilities, or would like to, it’s important to make your website and your communications accessible to all. This infographic explains more.
For many businesspeople, one of the uncomfortable parts of working with clients is asking for money and making sure you get paid for the product or services you’ve delivered.
If you want to get paid, make it easy for people to pay you.
One way to achieve this is to offer clients several different ways to pay. This gives them a choice and the convenience to pay in the way that works best for them.
If payment is due at the time of service, consider accepting credit cards in addition to traditional cash and check payments. Card readers such as Stripe, Square, and PayPal make it easy for clients to pay onsite with a credit or debit card. Each service charges a fee of around 3%, which is a small price to pay to offer your clients this added convenience.
If your work with clients is conducted online or over several weeks, you can add a PayPal button to your website for clients to pay in advance, or send out a PayPal invoice to clients once the work is completed.
The bottom line is, if you want to get paid, make it easy for people to pay you.
3. Is Your Physical Location Easily Accessible?
As we discussed above, list your office address and make it easy to find on your website. Consider including a photo of your office building so clients can recognize it when they arrive for their appointment.
If your location is a bit hard to find, give directions to the office on your website under the address and photo of the building.
Advise your clients if parking is free or if there’s a charge so they will know what to expect. If parking is scarce, suggest the best places to park. Make sure your phone number is easily found on your website or in your appointment reminder, in case clients have trouble finding your office.
Also in terms of physical accessibility, if you’re not on the first floor, let clients know where the elevator or ramp is nearby, in case they should need it to reach your office.
These points may seem elementary (or obvious), but they can make or break a client’s first experience with you.
The Bottom Line
Accessibility takes many forms and should be an important consideration in how you run your business. Make sure new prospects can easily find your contact information, both online and offline so they have a greater chance of engaging with you. A mobile-friendly website with good SEO will make it easier for clients and prospects to connect when searching for your services.
Return calls, emails, inquiries in a timely manner. This conveys common courtesy as well as professionalism. Make it easy for clients to schedule an appointment with you, and equally if not more importantly, if you want to get paid, make it easy for them to pay you.
Once you’ve booked the appointment, take steps to ensure your office location is easily found and accessible to all populations who can benefit from your services.
Keep these principles in mind to ensure a positive and seamless client experience. A happy client becomes a repeat client, building strength and momentum for your long-term business success.