Monday, 10 May 2010

Getting the basics right

I always have my eye on the French news and I spotted a report from on what French customers are looking for from a branded site. I don’t think the French are any different from us when it comes to web surfing so we could probably apply it to the UK as well.

The results on the surface are may seem a touch obvious.

78% of people go to a brand’s site for information on the products and services
54% for the online store
44% to find a nearby outlet
38% for help on how to use the product / service
37% for customer benefits
31% for contact with customer services
30% for information on the brand
10% for games / competitions
9% for advertising
7% to interact with other customers
(several responses are possible)

However, I think in reality this is quite interesting. This survey screams to brand owners that the web experience is first and foremost about information and assistance.

Customers want and expect to find clear information about your products and services . We can wax lyrical about social media and it certainly has its role to play for brands but we must first get the basics right.

Information needs to be set out clearly with easy navigation. An easy-to-use accessible site will give the customer the reassurance that you know what you are doing. If your site is putting obstacles in the way, what does that say about the products or services you are selling and their potential to be outstanding?

A simple test would be to put some of your customers, or even a couple of friends in front of your web site and just watch what they do. It is sometimes hard for us marketers to realise which bits the customer will trip up on. Sometimes it is the most obvious. As I have said before, even the really big brands have some big usability issues making it hard to find simple pieces of information. During the volcanic ash episode, my favourite target the air travel sites, notable Jet2 and easyjet’s informations was extremely poor, confusing and contradictory.

For the next step, you could try setting your customers a couple of really easy tasks to find on your web site and see if they manage. Usability testing doesn’t always have to be hi-tech, this method is possible for any small business.

Make sure access to the customer service line is easy to find and welcoming. If this survey is true, a third of all customers are just looking for some kind of assistance. The customer service experience is a moment of truth, when the customer will make up their mind about your brand. A brand advocate can be created from a great experience, since so many are so poor! Take the opportunity to do it well!

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