Offering & Taking Up Free Trials
A service, unlike goods, is intangible. You can't feel it and you can't touch it. So is offering a free trial for your service a good idea? And when should you take one up if offered?
Offering A Free Trial
I've offered a free trial for my telephone answering service for years. Sometimes one week, sometimes two. Sometimes a whole month.
Why? Because sometimes the only way you can convince a potential customer that you're offering a quality service is to let them try it out for free.
You know you're good at what you do but sadly some of your competitors might not be, and unless you're well established with an impeccable reputation then there may be no other way of demonstrating your competence.
But does the fact it's FREE devalue your service? Somebody said to me the other day that the only businesses who make money out of loss leaders are supermarkets.
It's also open to abuse by those who never have any intention of paying for your services. I've had several of those. In my industry it might be case of a business that suddenly finds they've got no staff in the office for a few days but they still need somebody to answer the phone. I've even had fraudsters using a free trial to hide behind my service in order to engage in their criminal activity. One gang used my telephone answering service to convince PC World and Currys that they had a legitimate business so they could order thousands of pounds worth of laptops to sell on. I ended up being interviewed by the City of London Fraud Squad as a result.
However, I still believe in taking people at face value and giving people the benefit of the doubt. After all, I want more customers and most of my competitors also offer free trials. My industry is relatively new and many people don't know how it works.
But most importantly, 90 per cent of those who actually divert their calls to us and take up a free trial become customers.
What about if you're offered a free trial? Surely, if it's free then it means the potential supplier hasn't got many customers, which some say is never a good sign. Or if you aren't actually paying anything then perhaps the service might be sub-standard.