Recently, American Express credit cards wrote to me, explaining I had been pre-selected to obtain one of their cards. All I had to do is go to their website and fill in the form.
My family is still new to the United States so our credit rating here is almost non existent. To fix this, we thought we should begin by applying for several cards, paying in time, and build the rating… Amex was on the list.
I spend 15 minutes gathering information, another 20 filling in forms on the site, and hit submit:
“Server down, try again later”
Really, really wanted to smack someone…
How hard is it for the programmers to build in a contingency for this? Not hard. Why don’t they do it?
Because the people that make decisions about changes to the site (marketers and CEO’s), are so busy working out how to get more people to the site, how to optimize their site, how to promote their product; they forget about making the site great for their visitors.
A couple of months ago, Eric Sink wrote about his experience with Citibank and described the dramas of dealing with large corporations in his post, Absurd Customer Relations post. I’m starting to wonder whether quality of service is directly proportional to size of the organization.
In the offline world, small businesses tend to have more expensive product, they have fewer items for customers to choose from, they don’t have the funds to spend on advertising, so what do they do? Focus on really great personalized service!
But – what about experiences in the online world?
The Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility show that 75% of web users admit to making judgments about the credibility of an organization – based on the design of its web site.
I’m not going back to Amex, Mr. Sink has cancelled his Citibank card, and I’m fairly confident we’re not the only two people in the world to be frustrated with customer service and website design.
So, what then, are business owners – small and big – waiting for?
Do they think it will be easier to fix once they’ve lost all their happy customers – or is it they just don’t know what to do right now?
If you belong in the first group – good luck; if you’re part of the second, start reading.
Lance and Sandra have over 20 years of online experience between them, and their new book Web Design for ROI shows you why it is so important to start treating your web site as a business. Expect to increase 10 – 50% of web sales by switching focus: make your site usable – good for your visitors – instead of worrying about traffic – good (you think) for you.
Eric Sink led the team that developed the Spyglass browser, (now known as Internet Explorer). His book Business of Software is indispensable if you’re thinking of starting a development firm or joining a startup in a very early phase; the business principles can be applied across all fields.
Eyetracking Web Usability, (available December 2007) demonstrates what can be learned from tracking user’s eye paths – where users go on your site, how they react to design elements – and leaves you with practical and effective information about how best to design your site.
If you listen to only 10% of Guy’s advice then you’ll probably double your success. His book, The Art of the Start will give you the essential steps to launch great products, services, and companies as well as show you how to unleash entrepreneurial thinking at established companies, helping you stay ahead of the pack.