Saturday, August 29, 2009

… Do you Want to Know What Your Customers Think?


Have you read my article titled “Is Feedback Important” yet? If not, this article is the second in a series about asking people for feedback. It’s more about email marketing and website structure.

This whole doing business on the internet is evolving so quickly that some of the niceties of doing business are being forgotten or intentionally left out or made obscure in the technology.

When on the internet, It’s so easy to think of people as faceless masses or statistics, but on the other end of those emails are real people – your customers. They have questions and need assistance to decide about making a purchase. You can herd some people through a cattle chute to the end result, but not most of them.

So, when you send out a mass email, you ought to be able to respond to it and get an answer to your questions. If you click on reply and get a message saying this is a “do not reply” mass mailing robot, you’re going to lose a lot of people who might be real qualified buyers. And you’re losing an opportunity to find out what your potential customer wants. It may be a small tweak in your product that you can offer next time. Are you really trying to serve a need, or are you just after the dollars? In the long run, serving a need is the only way to sustain your wealth.

Now, about websites: the current design philosophy of making them intentionally complex so you can present advertisements on every page is just plain annoying. I can tell you that I have quit in the middle of making a purchase because I got tired of being herded through page after page of advertisements and “one more offers.” Some buyers are explorers, but some buyers want to go to the checkout and get on with their lives. This tactic may be the current rage, but it’s not respectful to your customers, and they won’t thank you for it, and often they won’t make a second purchase from you, even if they like your product, because their experience left a bad taste in their mouths.

And, how about telling people what something costs before they go to a shopping cart? It’s extremely off-putting to me to have to put in card info without knowing the price, and I usually won’t do it. In fact, I’ve had products added to my final purchase without my permission, simply because I didn’t notice they had an “uncheck” box if I didn’t want the product. That’s like going to a drive through, ordering a burger and having them adding fries and a drink and charging you without asking – then telling you, “Well, you didn’t say you didn’t want them.” What’s up with that? Really?

Then when I cancelled the purchase because I was miffed about that, they had already pre-authorized my debit card for the total amount with the extra products added. That’s just wrong – and probably illegal. It’s like posting one price on the grocery store shelves and charging you something different at the cash register – that’s illegal, and they have to give you the posted price by law. After an inordinate amount of sorting out to get my money put back, I bought someone else’s product, and I told everyone I know about that experience. And, why is it that a seller can take your money out of your account in 10 second, and it takes three days to put it back? That’s usury. These are all personal experiences that I have had, along with millions of others.

The average person is still having challenges with all the evolving technologies they’re having to learn to become part of the internet economy. Cut em some slack and be the one who helps them get where they want to go and buy what they want to buy. That’s how to make some real long-term money.   

And, place a customer service and feedback button right up front. So what if they don’t want to search through pages of self-help? They shouldn’t have to. It’s up to you to give them the help they need to make a purchase.

They will thank you for that – with their dollars!

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