Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What does your customer want that you're not giving them?

by Todd Schneckloth

This article is an insight into the life of a customer. So first let's put you back into your customers' shoes.

Are you there?

Okay... let's say that you are trying to find a company to handle your child's birthday party. You really don't have time to plan a party, and right now you are in kind of a rush because you need to get the kids to soccer practice.

So you quick, hurry jump on the web and using your favorite search engine you find 3 local companies that do parties.

You click on the first link and you end up on this really hi-tech, flashy website.

You wait patiently for the progress bar to load, ... then... the clown to finish blowing up his balloon, then some music kicks in. Yuck, ice-cream truck music....and finally in a musical burst little symbols pop out all over the screen.

You look them over.. hmmm... none of them say what they do.

Of course you are web savvy so you roll over the top of one and sure enough you are presented with a description and list of more options.

You click on one of the options and the screen explodes in another burst of color and you are presented with another progress bar... you pause for a second, look at your watch and then click the "Back" button.

What did we learn?

  • Users don't like to wait. They have a thousand other places to visit. They want it all and they want it now.
  • Don't make them think. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for.
  • Sound isn't always a good thing. Consider where your customer might be when they hit your site.

You click on the next link, now a little bit less enthusiastic than when you first started this adventure. The page loads faster. No fancy, balloony, clowny things. You sigh in relief. Yay, no music!!

You continue on. Wow, very nice looking site, bet it was expensive. It says here they've been in business 4 years. They have 23 years combined birthday party experience. They have a birthday party certification from Birthday-U. Hmmm... like you would know what that is.

The right hand column is full of bright fancy logos from all their party favor sponsors. Ummm.. okay.

And here's a big story about how they did the birthday party for the governer. Yeah... like you can afford one like that.

And finally "Please call for pricing"...

Back button, click!

What did we learn?

  • Think of your target market. If you are selling to the average consumer talk of big fancy stuff can scare them off.
  • Don't clutter your site with a bunch of logo's and sponsors and titles that won't mean a thing to your customer. It's not about you.
  • Most online customers expect to see pricing. It's possible that is why they are researching your site in the first place.

Now you are at your last link. You are bored, irritated, and pretty much out of time. And 15 minutes later you are no further along than when you started.

But like all well trained search engine users, you click the next link.

Hmmmm... loads very quickly. Not very fancy, definitely home-made.

Headline says to "Sit back and enjoy the party, we'll handle the rest". Yes!

It also states that they will do the cleanup for an extra fee. That would be nice, hadn't thought of that.

They have some testimonials down the side from people that have nothing but good things to say about them. Wow... a LOT of testimonials.

At the top you only see three really large links. Cheesy, but it works. You click on the "What's included with your party" link. You scan through it quickly. Whoa, that's a lot of stuff. But... how much does it cost.

You click on the "Pricing" link and low an behold a list of all the options and their pricing. Also a note they can help with anything you want that's not on the list. Cool.

Finally you click on the "Contact us to setup your party". You get a list of their phone numbers, their business hours, and even after hours number for a party emergency. There's even an email form if you want them to contact you.

You smile, you click print, and off to soccer you go... problem solved.

So in the end was it about the fancy flashy latest and greatest website? How about the certifications, credentials or sponsors?

Not for this customer.

What did we learn?

  • This site got them in and moving fast. It wasn't pretty and they noticed, but a fancy website design wasn't what brought them here.
  • The first thing the customer saw was what the site could do for them. It addressed their pain and provided a solution.
  • It made it really easy to find the "other" things the customer would probably be looking for. Pricing, features, options.
  • They all provided lots of contact options. Make it easy for them to give you money.

One final point here. I'm not saying that big and flashy is bad. I'm not saying a professional, nicely designed site is bad. I'm saying that you need to know "your" audience. Know what "your" customers are looking for.

Give them what they want... then get out of the way.

What does "YOUR" customer want that you aren't giving them?

About the Author

Todd Schneckloth is a commercial software developer specializing in online marketing. After many years of working with big business his interests shifted towards helping individuals and small business owners become successful on the Internet.

His recent project http://dwkickstart.com is dedicated to providing marketing information and web skills to those trying to make it online.