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Offline Reps Need to Care About the Online Experience

Posted By Brendan Regan On September 18, 2008 @ 5:49 am In B2C,Checkout Process,Customer Experience,Multichannel Marketing,Offline Persuasion,e-commerce | 8 Comments

I had finally tracked down that hard to find item online.  It was the right size, the right shape, the right finish, and a tolerable price…and free shipping!

I clicked the nice, big, obvious “Add to Cart” button to dive headlong into the conversion funnel.  ERROR.  Some gobbledegook that only a developer would understand.  No phone number.  I did what anyone in the mood to buy would do – I clicked the back button and tried again.  ERROR.  I clicked back again, and luckily for this eTailer, the toll free number was prominently displayed in the active window, AND I didn’t have any of their competitor sites top-of-mind.

Rep:  Welcome to [store with error-ridden website], how can I help you?

Me: Well, I’m trying to buy [Item X] on your website, but I can’t, so can you start by checking whether it’s in stock.

Rep: OK, I can help you buy [Item X] no problem.

Now, let me imagine that conversation as it should have been…

Rep: Welcome to [store with error-ridden website], how can I help you?

Me: Well, I’m trying to buy [Item X] on your website, but I can’t, so can you start by checking whether it’s in stock.

Rep: Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that!  What happened?  Can you describe what you were doing when our website failed you?  Did you get an error message?  What browser were you using?

A little empathy would’ve been effective and memorable…maybe even blog-worthy. Don’t sound matter-of-fact that your website blew up, or I’ll never use your online channel again, and your brand has been damaged.

And I’m sure the technical team behind that website would’ve LOVED to get their hands on the error code that I’d written down and done some tinkering.  And they should’ve, because that website was bleeding money yesterday.


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