Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Your Website, Communication, and Customer Service

Customer service tip: If your website displays incorrect information, it's not your customer's fault. 

Communication and customer service are intricately linked. When mistakes on your site make it difficult to find your business or work with you, customers will find someplace else to shop or someone else to help them. Below, three simple tips to make sure your website is working for you, not against you. Following the tips are some real-life examples to file under "don't be that guy."

3 Tips: Communication,  Customer Service, and Your Website

1. Don't tell customers that they have the wrong information when they got it from you. 
"I'm sorry, let me give you the correct information," is a much better response.

2. When a customer (or anyone) points out that your website, business card, or other business communication contains incorrect information, or that it is difficult to find something on your website, fix it. If they had trouble finding your phone number, hours, prices, or products, and took the time to tell you about it, that's a gift.
Say "thank you." Then fix it!

3. Do review your website regularly (I recommend on the first of every month) as if you have never seen it before. Review it from a user interface and design standpoint, pretending you are a customer or prospect in the market for what your company offers, and compare your site to others in your industry. Does it work?
It's hard to see your site with fresh eyes. Need help? Ask me about a Website Reality Check

Don't Be That Guy! 2 Companies, 2 Cities, 2 Days

I had an appointment in Akron on Monday. The office address was wrong in the footer of (every page of) its website. Fortunately the firm had moved just a few blocks, the receptionist who answered the phone was great, gave me the new address, and I arrived on time. When I met with the Chairman of the organization, he asked, "Did you have any trouble finding the place?"

Great, a chance to bring it up, I thought.

I said, "Well actually, I went to <location> and found out you had moved, but your receptionist gave me the address, so no worries."

He laughed and said, "We haven't been there for years."      

I said, "Well, I should have confirmed your address when we spoke. But I just took it from your website."

He said, "Really? Where is that address on our website?"

I explained the footer on each page of a website usually contains the same information; it's like a template...a template you should update when you move.

Before proceeding with our meeting, he logged on to his computer and looked for himself. He pointed out that the address was listed correctly on the About Us page. And it sure was -  in the third paragraph on the page describing the organization's past 20 years or so. Unfortunately, that's the only place it was listed correctly.

The site's Contact Us page consisted of a form for email contact, but did not list an address or phone on the body of the page. (Which is fine for companies that don't rely on customer foot traffic, but not so good for businesses expecting real, live visitors to walk in off the street.)

When the organization moved - as described in a lengthy paragraph on the About page, where the new location was buried in the middle of the copy - information in the footer wasn't changed to reflect the new address.

So while the Chairman was right, the correct address was listed on the organization's site, it wasn't easy to find. And the footer of each page listed the wrong address. (Note: it has since been updated.) Errors like that can lead to miscommunications, and cost you money.

Here's another "Don't Be That Guy" story:

How to Communicate When You Don't Want New Business Referrals

Last Friday, I met with a Columbus-area business owner who handles sensitive matters for his clients. He asked me to email a document to him, and since his email address wasn't on his business card, I asked, "Should I send it to the email address on your website?"

He said yes.

On Monday, I sent the document with the message, "please call me when you receive this."

On Tuesday, I called him because I hadn't called me. Our conversation:

Me: Hi, Jack? This is Diane Stresing. I wonder if you got the email I sent last week. I sent it to <email @ company>."

Him: "You have the wrong address. You need to send it to <another email address @ different ISP >."

I waited a moment, expecting the absurdity to occur to him. When it didn't, I said, "Ok. Thanks."

The absurdity apparently hasn't sunk in yet.

How likely would you be to do business with, or recommend, either of these organizations?

Your website isn't your whole business, but in 2016, it's vital to your business communication.  I can help you get it right

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