The car salesperson who supported my wife’s buying process took a consultative approach freely giving information, answering tough questions, setting up multiple, convenient test drives and listening to her specific requirements. Never throughout the process did the salesperson “ask for the close” instead he moved along at the pace of my wife’s buying process and supported her informational needs. He also didn’t presume that I was buying the car; instead he focused on the actual buyer – my wife. The overall experience led my wife to buy a car from this salesperson.
A customer’s web experience should follow a similar path. There was a great article in INC. Magazine (August 2007) titled, “Customers need more data. You have more data. It’s time to start sharing.” The article made a great statement directly related to the need for businesses to improve their customers’ web experiences. The article stated, “We tend to think of our lives as being data-rich, but the fact is most businesses are pretty stingy with the information they make available on their websites – be it product specs, buying advice, service policies, discounts, account histories, management and employee profiles, corporate information, data on partners and competitors or troubleshooting help.”
So where’s the common sense? Does the car salesperson, a profession usually associated with gimmicks, the only one who understands that helping people buy (versus selling them) by sharing information is actually beneficial to their financial success?
For example, have you ever tried to buy a product on Dell.com? For an Internet Retailer’s Top Five Web Merchant as listed in their Top 500 Guide (Internet Retailer, June 2007) I find it difficult to comprehend how they can create such a complicated web experience. Friends of mine who are technology-savvy and frequent online buyers were screaming about how bad of an expereince they had attempting to order from Dell.com. Many had to pick up the phone to ask questions because either they couldn’t find the information on the web site or the information was outright missing or confusing.
And by no means is Dell.com the only company challenged to create a satisfying web experience. Most web businesses tend to have a similar seller-centric approach which creates gaps in information needed by customers to make satisfactory buying decisions. Beyond just information availability – usability, complicated technology and other barriers to a positive expereince are present across websites of small to large businesses
My company worked with one client to redesign their e-commerce website. The client initially had a navigation structure that resembled a windows explorer folder/file layout. With over 12,000 products (actually only 120 products with many attributes per product which couldn’t be supported by their shipping cart technology hence the windows explorer structure) finding a specific product was nearly impossible. And the client wondered why they were not generating any sales. If they would have stepped into their customers’ shoes they would have relaized quickly just how difficult it was to shop!
Improving your customer’s web expereince is a broad and continuous process involving a multi-disciplinary approach. But if you start by just changing your paradigm from seller-centric to buyer-centric, you will quickly be able to target potential barriers on your website.