I wrote recently about the gap between empowered customers and many sales and customer service teams. That post dealt specifically with the disconnect between what a company is offering online and what they’re telling you when you call them.

And that doesn’t even factor in referrals, reviews, or word of mouth.

Internet service providers (the example in that post) have a captive audience. My options, like most people’s, are limited by geography. So my choice is less about where to shop as it is about which company is least problematic right now.

There is no Amazon ISP.

Your business, though, probably can’t get away with price gouging or being crappy. And a pretty Web site with alluring offers, like a fresh coat of paint, is only the facade.

Your prospects are doing their homework:

  • They’re asking around about you before they pick up the phone.
  • They’re Googling your name.
  • They’re reading reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, and other sites.

If your store, restaurant, clinic, or kiosk doesn’t meet expectations, I don’t walk in the door. Or I don’t buy. Or I don’t come back. Or–worse–I tell everyone how disappointed I am.

My business can’t afford to have that happen. Can yours?

Photo by Scott Robinson (Flickr).