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Is Your Online Experience Your Customer’s Worst Nightmare?

The following is a Best of 360Connext post.

Reviewing customers’ online experience is one of the most common ways we at 360Connext help our clients. We have a proprietary process and corresponding report which make sure all the main objective bases are covered – navigation, ease-of-task, findability, etc. It’s part of out trademarked process called Customer Experience Investigation, which covers everything. But what I tend to enjoy the most are those revelations that require more nuance.

Here’s an example: Your help is actually everything but helpful. Sure, it may work the way it’s “supposed to” and contain information you feel is useful to the customer, but it’s not easy to access or it’s often unavailable (e.g. live support, customer service call centers). Or, quite possibly more damning, your error messages are written by technical engineers. Gasp!

It’s unbelievable how often I report back to a client and somebody on their team says things like, “Oh, yeah, we’ve been meaning to work on that.”

Online experience is still so 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:

online experience

1. People are shopping online. A lot.

Not shopping like “hey, I need one of these, and ooh, one of those too” but more like “let me compare the price and shipping of these items against those of every other online retailer on the globe.” Your customers are constantly checking out your competitors. With multiple browser windows open, and so many aggregation sites making it that much easier, they are verifying they’re getting the best value possible. They are sorting results by rating,  reading scores of customer reviews and in essence, standing you up before the first date.

If the experience you provide is disconnected, confusing, painful… they know they are free to date others.

online experience

2. Your online experience is not the same one your employees are married to.

This really is a double-edged sword. Have you ever seen an awesome, I-would-kill-to-work-there website for an agency that happens to not be nearly as hip and cool as the site would have you believe? Or how about meeting friendly, intelligent people who all work for the same company only to visit their website to find a boring, out-dated, poorly-maintained and diluted version of the same company? This broken connection can only lead to a huge mess – from derailing the journey of possible clients to attracting applicants you never meant to target. Your site must honestly and respectably reflect your culture without fail.

online experience

3. There is no case for your 2008 case study.

Aren’t we lucky to be able to publish new content all the whenever we want? Then why do so many companies keep recycling the same tired, old content? Your website is not a pre-paid, static medium like a billboard. It’s a vital piece of your communications strategy, fully capable of being as organic as your customers. Breathe some life into it. Regularly!

online experience

Here is a great example of just about everything NOT to do!

4. And who said you needed all these gimmicks?

Really, this isn’t the old MySpace. It’s time to ditch the flash player, imposing audio, pop-ups and altogether obnoxious elements of your home pages. Wouldn’t you like customers to actually return to your site? Don’t annoy them to the point of feeling punished for doing so.

These are just top-of-mind observations and there are many, many more. When was the last time you considers how your site REALLY engages and interacts with your customers? How does it fit in with your greater customer experience?

(Oh, so it’s been a while since you thought about it, eh? I’d love to have a look at it. Let’s talk.)

Image credits: George AppiahCherrysweetdealHugo90smoothgroover22

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