Walking Hand in Hand

WebsiteDesign 300x133 Walking Hand in Hand

Using Your Website Design as a Catalyst for the Perfect B2C Relationship

Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only eight percent of their customers agree. 1 What would your customers say?

You’ve successfully persuaded potential customers to visit your site. But are you drawing them in just to disappoint? According to a Deloitte report, approx 2/3 of customers do not feel valued by the company serving them. How can your website convey value to your customer base? For the majority of consumers, the feelings derived from interacting with a company’s website are directly correlated to their perception of the brand.

The purchase process has transformed with the continued evolution of the Internet, which acts as a great equalizer. Companies appearing online cannot compete like traditional brick and mortar stores, feeling sure that despite experiences, they could comfortably retain market share due to the convenience of their physical location. This is not so on the Internet where dominance in the new competitive frontier isn’t accidental, it’s earned. The quality of the customer experience is the new standard by which company performance and quality is judged. Market not only what you sell but how you sell it, as this often is the deciding factor between you and your competitor. A quality website will pique interest, encourage exploration and inspire purchase.

A BearingPoint, Inc. survey noted that 60% of companies interviewed spend a very limited amount of money annually on the customer experience. However, many companies continue to pour funds into advertising campaigns aimed at directing potential clients to their online interface. This is senseless and wasteful and will ultimately maim the company’s reputation. When consumers take the bait and log on to the site, only to be confronted with a poorly designed and executed interface, many will be immediately turned off by the obvious gulf between what was advertised and what actually exists. Feeling betrayed and leery of the company’s intentions and qualifications, they leave, never to return.

The secret behind creating the perfect online experience is to open your eyes and mind to the needs of your target audience: Who are they? What do they need? How can I fulfill their requirement? Understanding what motivates their purchase process is the key to ensuring you are the supplier of choice. You must forge a human connection through a sometimes impersonal medium, creating an emotional bond to secure new business opportunities by evoking credibility, trust, comfort, etc.

Employ a User-Friendly Format

Customers visiting your website should be able to smartly browse your content, moving fluidly from page to page without confusion. Provide easy access to navigational links and make sure your contact information is prevalent throughout. This solidifies that there is a “face” behind the site, making online consumers feel more comfortable and sure of your brand.

It is a good idea to include onsite search capabilities, allowing browsers to quickly and efficiently gain access to desired information with minimum time input. Consumers appreciate your extra effort to make their experience as rewarding and effortless as possible. Similarly, you should constantly test your site to uncover stumbling blocks that could potentially fend off business opportunities. One of the most critical areas of your site to concentrate on is the shopping cart as most transaction fatalities occur at this point. Ridding your site of these obstacles give consumers a feeling of satisfaction with the process and builds an emotional connection based on trust and credibility.

Make Your Site Inspire Action

The purpose of your website it to “seal the deal” but this will only happen when you’ve bonded with the customer and logically directed them toward a desired action. How can you do this? Help customers realize their importance to your business – avoid a generic one-for-all approach and instead strive to make your site customer-centric. Put yourself in their shoes, not talking at them but identifying with them through your content. Show, don’t tell, them why you are the best option for their individual needs. Provide a clear call to action on every page of your site and offer value-added cross-channel sales opportunities that bring desired additional resources within a mouse click.

Solidify your brand identity through the use of visual graphics, taglines, logos, and targeted communications. This will define your company’s reputation, creating familiarity and building trust and sense of reliability.

Help Your Customers Feel Empowered

As humans, we all like to be in control of our actions. If we visit a confusing site, it is easy to feel disoriented and annoyed. With this perception, what online surfer would want to linger in your web presence?

Employ tactical elements to put the power back in the hands of your customer. By putting them in the driver’s seat, you emphasize that they are in control of their destiny and you are simply there to make life easier. Including an FAQ page with popular client inquiries and thorough responses allows consumers to obtain immediate and helpful information at their fingertips without having to wait on a reply. Another smart option is to include interactive media, such as chats and blogs, that brings the customer voice directly into play.

Ensure Design and Operational Platforms Reaffirm Your Company Goals

According to a 2008 Harris Interactive survey, there is an increasing intolerance on the part of consumers for failures on online commerce sites. They determined that nearly 90% of consumers had been plagued by difficulties at one time and 41% of those consumers completely abandoned their action or visited a competitor’s site. Of those, 55% felt disappointed, 41% felt angry and 23% felt confused. Is this the experience you are creating?

The foundation that provides the footing for customer experience, the operational platform provides consumer value by ensuring maximum efficiency – optimized speed and load times, cutting-edge technology and a commitment to continuous improvement. Employ web analytics as a tangible measurement to ensure established company goals are being met and surpassed. The addition of video/audio technologies as well as a crisp, clean design adds value and credibility to your brand.

Now is the time to re-evaluate the most fundamental relationship in your business – the intimate interaction between you and your customers. Examine all angles – what has your core audience needed in the past, what are they looking for now, what will they be looking for next? Being able to understand and anticipate the needs of your customers will ensure the highest quality experience.

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0 Comment   |   Posted in Blog May 29, 2010