Today I'd like to tell an interesting story about websites and customers service that you might be able to learn a thing or two from. It's not about jewelry, but about websites and business in general.
And honestly, it's a business disaster.
There's a costume and magic shop not too far from my home in New Jersey. It's been there for at least 35 years. My mom took me there as a young boy and bought me lots of fun magic tricks, professional quality, like bags that make things disappear and scarves that change color, oh and card tricks that would change a playing card depending on how it was pulled out of the deck.
And because I had all these neat tricks, I got my first taste of performing on stage as a stage magician in a school play around age 10.
Today, Halloween, is undoubtedly the busiest day of the year for all costume shops. Like the holiday season is for jewelers, the 30 days leading up to today are paramount for costumers.
Earlier this week a mobile Google search for Ken's Magic Shop resulted in the screen shot you see to the right (click it to enlarge).
In the screen shot you can see the website title "Ken's Magic & Costume Shop," the URL is shown as "www.kensmagic.com." The really odd part is the meta description:
"A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt. - learn more"
Really? The robots.txt file is blocking the website? I really didn't think that anyone was still making such a bad website mistake any more.
But it was worse than that...
When you visit the site, you see this message (click it to enlarge):
"The Superpages powered Web site you are looking for is no longer available."
Apparently, Ken's either didn't pay their website bill, or they canceled their website. Can you imagine that that a business owner would be so stupid to cancel their website, or not pay their bill, during their busiest season?
When hosting your website with large companies, there are always automated payments in place that will shut down your website the day your payment is overdue, or if your credit card is declined. Network Solutions, GoDaddy, and of course Superpages.
I checked the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to see when the website was last live. June 3, 2013 was the last date of record. You can see that here: https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.kensmagic.com
It's interesting that the website archive for Ken's had a link for the website kensmagicshop.com. Sadly, that site is also dead right now.
The Google SERP also listed a Facebook page for Ken's. So I went there to make sure they were still open. The last status post was September 30, 2013 says:
"31 days til Halloween . Stop in for your all your Halloween needs . This will be the last Halloween in this store . Our building is getting renovated and we are moving 2 doors down (same building). We are so excited . Everything looks great already . We are starting the move right after Halloween . Just in time for our christmas season ."
Spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes aside, I was shocked that they didn't have FB posts during the entire month of October. Let me say that again because it was important... Their busiest month of the year has zero, zilch, nada posts to their Facebook page!
As I said, Ken's Magic Shop has been around forever and all the other business directory websites have listings for them:
* Google Maps
* Google +Local
* Yahoo Local
Sadly, they never bothered to claim ownership of any of those listings. This is a practice I've been writing about for a while now.
Just to add insult to injury I did a Google Site search: "site:kensmagic.com" and found these results (click it to enlarge):
I found their email address on their Facebook page and decided to email them...
Subject of my email: Still Open?
Message of email: Your website says "The Superpages powered Web site you are looking for
is no longer available" on the day before Halloween.
I actually got a reply a short time later...
We are open all year long
From my Android phone on T-Mobile. The first nationwide 4G network.
I thought this was horrible customer service. I doubt they even read my email message. No name, no telephone number, no simple sales message like "Yes, it's the day before Halloween and we still have great costumes available for rent or purchase."
So here are the takeaway lessons you can learn from this:
1. Always pay your website hosting bill on time.
2. Never let your website be turned off, even if you are in the process of building a new one.
3. Manage all your online profiles.
4. Post something to the social networks you've joined, especially during your busy season.
5. Take EVERY opportunity to initiate good customer service and throw in a non salesy sales message.
If you've been in business for as long as Ken's Magic has, you might not understand why all this is important. If this describes you then you should ask someone else to manage your online identity before you put yourself out of business.
No treats at Ken's this year. Just a boatload of bad Tricks!