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Gone (in less than) 60 seconds… potential customers that is

Gone (in less than) 60 seconds… potential customers that is

Before the web came along, it took hours, days, weeks, often years to really hack off customers.  Since its arrival it has given us unbridled power to send our favourite clients into a wild rage in less than a minute.  Badly written poorly conceived websites push customers further away, limiting sales and damaging brands.

Imagine you’re the CEO of a business, and you’ve just installed a new automated receptionist telephony system.  Your IT people are very proud of it, your commercial people look forward to the cost savings and you are assured it will save you thousands each year.  You phone up to test that it’s working…

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

“Thank you for calling. If you are looking for X, please dial Y, if you are calling for Z then you must please hang up and call 1–800–TIMEWASTE.

Please listen carefully and choose from the following options:

For Aaron, press 1.  For Boris, press 2.  For Charles, press 3.  For Dave, press 4.  For Elvis, press 5.  If at any time you wish to speak to a customer service representative press 0.”

* presses zero *

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

* bring bring *  * bring bring *  * bring bring * 

“Thank you, the call centre…

… is closed at lunchtime

… doesn’t deliver to Northern Ireland

… has encountered a technical fault

… [ insert excuse here ]

To return to the main menu press star.”

* presses star *

“Thank you for your call.  Goodbye.”

You’re absolutely horrified.  Angry as hell, you make it your first priority to get the system streamlined so that it helps ease your customers closer to your people and doesn’t repel them in a fit of pique to your competitors.

We would never endure such frustrating telephone systems.  So why do we tolerate time wasting websites?

Your customers enter into an emotional contract with you when they use your website to get something done.  The unwritten bond they sign states that their investment of time on your site will get them a greater return in terms of information gathered than the same time invested on the phone, in the library, or face to face with one of your people.

Time wasting websites take too long to get to the point.  They put the information most important to the customer three layers down from the home page.  They fill the home page with messages from the CEO, with content about corporate history, or with a selection of random detail from throughout the organisation.  Prevaricating websites use navigation systems based on the internal structures of the business rather than their customers needs, talking frequently in industry speak, and not customer speak.

Want to know if your website procrastinates?  Ask some customers the things which are most important to them when they come to your site.  Go online and see how long it takes you to find those things.  The results may surprise you.  The longer it takes you to find, the less you’re honouring your emotional contract.  And the more that your hacked off customers are clicking through to your competitors.

By Gareth Dunlop

CEO & Founder

Gareth formed Fathom in 2011 and has been in the business of design performance for over two decades.

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