Do customers complain that it’s hard to find your business? Does your postcode send them to the wrong place or are they constantly heading to the wrong Church Street?

Many businesses in rural and urban settings face challenges with systems like Google Maps and postcodes aren’t reliable enough – particularly if you are trying to guide people to a specific entrance.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

What3Words is a guidance system capable of pointing people to precise locations.

Clever app developers have managed to split the entire world into 57 trillion squares – each measuring three metres by and each with a unique, randomly-assigned address made up of three words.

The Artlab’s three-word address, for example, is tiny.dared.upon. 10 Downing Street, meanwhile, is slurs.this.shark.

The germ of the idea was born when founder Chris Sheldrick, living in rural Hertfordshire, couldn’t reliably get post delivered to his house.

“Our postcode did not point to our house,” he told the BBC.

“We got use to getting post meant for other people, or having to stand in the road to flag down delivery drivers.”

Sheldrick also previously worked in the music industry, where his job involved getting bands to meet at specific entrances to gig venues.

He said that while longitude and latitude could already direct people to specific locations, the practice never really caught on.

“It got me thinking, how can you compress 16 digits into something much more user-friendly?”

With the help of a mathematician, the founder realised that 40,000 words would be enough to cover every location in the world.

Since its launch in 2013, the system has been adopted by several high-profile organisations and businesses that use it in a variety of different ways.

In the UK, emergency services staff have started asking some callers for a three-word address so that they can more accurately direct responders. This has proved particularly useful for lost hikers, who often find themselves in very remote locations near no visual landmarks.

Lonely Planet has started including What3words addresses in their travel guides while Mercedes Benz has introduced the system in their cars. The country of Mongolia even uses it for its postal system.

Make life easier for your customers

Want to join the thousands of businesses using their three-word address to help their customers find their way?

If customers get frustrated that they can’t find your location, publishing a What3Words code on your website’s contact us page to make it easier for them to find you.

This is perfect for businesses in rural locations, where postcodes rarely take you to locations. It is also good if you are based in a city and have a confusing or newly built address.

It’s great for finding ad-hoc locations as well.

If you have paid good money for an exhibition stand or a stall at a festival, then a three-word address shared on social media will make it easy for eager customers to find you.  

And the precise nature of What3Words codes means that, if you have a large site, you can guide customers to a specific place – such as the customer service desk rather than the workshop floor, for example.

The relationship works both ways as well.

If you operate a service-based business and you are forever struggling to locate a customer’s personal or business address, then you can make sure you ask them for a three-word code before you leave the house.

This way you won’t spend hours circling around a postcode and your customer won’t have to wait for you.

More advanced business solutions are possible using the What3Words API.

What3Words is a private company, so you will need to pay for the privilege of doing this. But for firms that rely heavily on addresses, like taxi companies, couriers and other delivery firms, using a What3Words technology-powered system can dramatically improve efficiency.  

London-based courier Quiqup ran a small test where they compared three-word addresses with traditional street addresses.

They found that using three-word addresses reduced overall delivery time by 30% allowing them to save time and increase the number of deliveries made by each driver and rider.