Those of you who have followed by brilliant insights and incoherent ramblings will know that I draw inspiration for the virtual world from the real world. Today, I would like to offer a few real world situations that bear on how your website performs.
Yesterday late afternoon, by twisting my schedule around, I was able to pick up my $250. A Japanese client sent me the money via Western Union. It’s a piddly amount, especially since the largest part of it goes to one of our writers. Let me emphasize this…it is not the kind of money that one wants to put any effort into collecting. Got that? One does not want to have to go to the bank, only to be told they can’t access the money. One does not want to have to go to the Western Union website, only to be told there is no money waiting. One does not want to have to call Western Union only to have a recorded voice tell you that there is money waiting…but with no instructions on how to access it. One does not want to discover that the only way to receive the money is to drive 40 minutes into the big city, show ID, fill in a form, then drive 40 minutes back. For $1,000,000, sure. For a portion of $250, no way! Never mind the time it cost, just the wear and tear on the car ate up any income we would have made on the transaction. But it’s not the amount of money. It’s the barrier that Western Union puts up, making sure that we will never accept Western Union as payment again.
But Western Union is not the only name brand to place up barriers. The Pizza Pizza store where I take the girls on gymnastics nights locks their bathrooms. To get access, one must ask for the key from behind the counter. This can take a few minutes if the guy behind the counter is busy putting pizzas in the over, sometimes beyond even our ear shot. And by the time you get the key… “Sorry, Daddy. It’s too late. I don’t think I need a toilet anymore.”
And what about Giant Tiger, a store that, like Pizza Pizza, also caters to young families with kids. I suppose an amateur videographer could have made his first hit comedy following me around the store as I desperately searched for someone who could unlock the bathroom for my daughter. But… “Sorry, Daddy. It’s too late. I don’t think I need a toilet any more.
Take a look at your website. Is it easy to use? Do you make it easy for people to compare prices and understand your services? Do you make them go through the whole shopping cart hassle just to get information they need to decide whether to buy (like shipping costs or even whether you ship to their country)? Do you have the tools they need when they are on your website, perhaps links to reviews and testimonials, weather conditions, etc? Or do you keep the bathrooms locked so that customers keep focused on the merchandise on the shelves?
The difference between the real world and the Internet is that in the real world, the audience is somewhat captive. To go from the back of the Giant Tiger store to another similar store requires a big effort. To go from your website to a similar website requires just a few clicks. If your website doesn’t take care of the customer, somebody else’s will.Written by David Leonhardt
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