Are you providing the right online environment for your customers?
You might think that in the relatively well-developed and sophisticated world of the internet that everyone was gearing up to providing users with masses of information and data about products and services provided. While this is the case with lots of sites there are still certain industries and sectors that adopt a more minimalist approach to their web information preferring to use it to arrange sales calls and visits or to attract customers to their bricks-and-mortar premises. These businesses will have robust arguments for their approach from ‘customers don’t really understand what they want or are looking at’ to ’price and feature comparisons are misleading if not explained by technical experts’.
There might be truth in some of these assertions but, in these days of burgeoning (and often bewildering) customer choice is it right (or wise) to treat the consumer as something of a novice when it comes to making comparisons and choices?
There was a time when your super salepeople might have said to you ‘Give me the leads and appointments and I’ll close the sale.’ But does that still really apply today? There is so much competition and information out there are consumers are smarter, more sophisticated and more armed with competitive data than ever before. The question is really whether you can afford to stick with old traditions and methods if everyone else is switching to new techniques and using the full range of tools available to them.
There is likely to be more resistance and perhaps less capacity and inclination to adopt new technology solutions in small to medium enterprises (SMEs). You might think it is not worth putting the effort into making the website as useful and informative as it could possibly be; you might believe it will affect your bricks-and-mortar business or make you appear worse in comparison to competitors or just stop customers from asking for quotes or further information so you can sell to them. There are several layers to answering these fears;
- If you have felt the need and gone to the bother of creating a website shouldn’t you make it work as hard as possible for you? If you obviously don’t update or maintain it, users will spot this and it will reflect upon your perceived efficiency, service levels and company ethos.
- If you are worried about competitive comparison perhaps you need to look at what you offer versus your competition; maybe you are getting it wrong. Just avoiding putting your information into the marketplace isn’t likely to solve the problem by itself.
- If you don’t provide customers with the information they are seeking easily and in the medium and manner they are looking for, the odds are they just won’t bother with your business. There will be plenty of others out there giving them what they need quickly and simply. Generally people would much rather surf the net than pick up the phone.
- You can use your online presence to differentiate yourself from the competition. Think what your unique selling points are; show visitors what friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff you have; make them feel at home, make them want to visit you or phone or email you and talk business.
By making your website comprehensive, useful and informative you are making the customer feel that you are an open and transparent business; that you won’t be trying to rip them off with hidden costs or unexpected extras or talk them into something they don’t need and want. Consumers’ biggest complaint about businesses is lack of clarity and honesty about what is being offered and charged; so companies, particularly smaller ones, need to do all they can to dispel the notion that the customer is in a vulnerable position.
If you think your website is suffering from any of these problems or could be improved to offer a better online environment to your potential customers, then please, get in touch by phone on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.