One of the main ways I help clients is by reviewing their online customer experience. I have a proprietary report I use to make sure I cover all the objective basics – navigation, ease-of-task, legibility, etc. But what I tend to have the most fun with are those discoveries that require more nuance. For example, your help is not helpful. Sure, it may work correctly and even have good information, but it’s hard to find or not always available (e.g. live chat, call centers). Or, perhaps a worse sin, you let your technical engineers write your error messages. Enough said!
It’s amazing how many times I report back to a client and someone in the group reports back, “Oh, yeah, we knew that’s bad.”
Online experiences are often the last part of the experience to get a good buff and shine, but I’m here to argue for bringing that priority up to the front of the line. Here’s why:
1. People shop online.
Not shop like “ooh, let me pick up one of those and one of those” but more like “let me check this product and price and feature against every other site known to man.” Seriously, your customers are checking out your competition. All the time they’re opening up multiple windows and verifying they’re getting the best possible deal, reading other customer reviews and essentially shutting you down before the first date.
If your experience is flawed, slow, painful…they know there are other fish in the sea.
2. Your experience online is vastly different than the one your employees live each day.
This, truly, cuts both ways. Ever see a hip, I-would-kill-to-work-there agency site and then show up and realize it’s not nearly as hip and cool as the site wants it to be? Or how about meeting totally likable, smart people who all work for the same place and then visit their online location to discover a boring, oft-neglected, watered-down reflection of the same company? This disconnect leads to all sorts of mess – from missing out on would-be applicants to getting the wrong kind of clients. Make sure your culture is reflected authentically and honorably on your site.
3. The most recent case study is from 2007.
Isn’t it awesome to have the ability to publish new stuff all the time? Then why don’t so many companies do it? Your site is not a pre-paid billboard. It’s a living piece of your communications strategy. Live it up!
4. Your agency or web guy talked you into too many gimmicks.
Drop the flash, audio, pop-up obnoxious home pages. You actually WANT people to go to your site more than once. Don’t punish them for doing so.
This is a short list. When was the last time you really thought about how your site interacts with its audience? How about how it fits with your bigger customer experience?
(Oh, you haven’t thought about it for a while? Let me take a peek. Let’s talk.)