I was at the Mall of New Hampshire shopping at Foot Locker yesterday and my experience got me thinking about website customer service. Against my better judgement yesterday we decided to head to to the mall to spend some Christmas gift cards, usually I would wait as the week after Christmas is not the best time to do this as the stores are very crowded, but we were in the area and I was on a mission.
Pay Attention to Your Customers
So I walk into Foot Locker with my $50 gift card not having any idea what I am going to buy. Foot Locker is a store that I can’t ever remember buying anything in ever, but I’m not going to let a gift card go to waste! In the store there is me, my wife and a family of 4. The store had 3 employees working at the time, no of which welcomed us or asked us if we were looking for anything in particular.
Strike 1 for Footlocker. This same sentiment goes for your website. When you think about your most trafficked webpages, how are they set up? Are your webpages welcoming to your primary target audience and do they cater to the different types of buyers that you will be dealing with such as first time visitors vs. returning patrons? Are your webpages welcoming, do they accurately descibe what your all about in a quick, clear and concise manner? As many of you know when it comes to websites you have a grand total of roughly 3-5 seconds to make that first impression on a visitor, what does your web site say in 3-5 seconds?
Tell me what it costs!
Looking around the store there were lots of shoes, some clothing, shoe products, clearance, hats, bags and even some DVDs, the only problem was that I couldn’t find out what any of it cost, there were no prices on many of the shoes at all, and much of the other merchandise had the price tags buried on small hard to read stickers.
Strike 2 for Foot Locker. This is something else that I see as an issue with many ecommerce websites, you bury your prices! Don’t make me work to find out how much something costs, it is usually a primary determining factor in making just about any purchase, the harder I have to look the more skeptical I become about the value associated with the cost. Plus this is just bad usability on both the web and in a physical store, it’s so frustrating looking at lots of product with money to spend and not knowing where you stand.
Know Your Product
So after I walk around aimlessly for about 20 minutes I come to a few shoes I think I may like, I do the typical pick up the shoe and look at it examine it, with the expectation that someone is going to notice and come and ask me if I need help. Nope, not going to happen, so finally I go to the counter and say “can somebody tell me how much these shoes cost?!” Nope, not going to happen. The guy working behind the counter I ended up talking to made 3 random guesses and then had to ask his associate what the answer was, after he had told me that the shoes were in my price range, but when he came back were actually $30 more than I wanted to spend!
Strike 3 for Foot Locker. You need to know what your products are all about! First of all, the fact that I had to search out help and demand it is unacceptable in a retail environment (the equivalent of this online would be an overblown FAQ section you find on many web sites today, while the smart alternative would be a live chat feature that many progressive ecommerce stores offer today). But more importantly the people working the store had no idea what the products actually cost, what made them special, or why I needed them! No one asked me what my type of activity I was looking to use the shoes for (do I play basketball, indoor soccer, or am I a runner!?) and no one made any type or recommendations as to what shoes would be best for me. No they just went to the most expensive model and said “have you seen this, it has everything!?” Everything for what!? Everything for me? Everything compared to other shoes?
The point is know your products better than anyone, and better yet know your customers better than anyone! This can be accomplished very easily in a physical retail environment but just as easy online as well with a bit of research and careful planning. You don’t even need a fancy website with lots of complicated scripts to make it happen. You just have to know your buyers, understand what they are looking for and be straight with them in your product offerings. The more direct and knowledgeable you are the better connection you will have with your buyers and the more satisfied they will become as customers, and that will make them that much more likely to come back and purchase from you in the future because of those positive experiences.
Lets get working on those websites!
Website design and usability for consumers is all about knowledge and care. Take the time to profile your buyers and craft an experience that means something to them. You’ll not only increase your sales profits but your reputation will grow by leaps and bounds with all the positive unsolicited referral PR you will generate for your happy customers.
If improving your customer experience is something that sounds like your company website or even retail environment could benefit from please by all means contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website for more information. I offer consulting, design and programming services in all of the areas I have discussed today.