Online Check-Up: Does Your Website Give Customers What They Really Need?
Most companies know they need a website to be viable in today’s market. Even small organizations can access tools to build a modest site to give them a presence in the electronic world. But are you getting everything you need from your online appearance? More to the point, are your customers getting what they need from you online?
Just like with your mobile strategy, there are some key things that matter to your customers, including how fast your website loads, and how easy it is to navigate. But there are three other simple things that prospective clients expect when they visit your website, which you might not be giving them.
Your contact information
Your company’s web presence is still a gateway to the real you. Despite all the talk about society’s dislike of the telephone, there are still thousands of customers out there who just want to pick up the phone and call you. Even if your company is in the e-commerce business, customers still expect an opportunity to connect with the real, live human beings that run things behind the scenes.
Customers also want to know where your home base is. Are you in Europe or North America? Canada or the United States? California or New York? Toronto or Vancouver? These details matter to your clients, so be sure to make them available.
If you’re a virtual business, customers want to know when they can expect a response from you. And if you’re a bricks and mortar operation, people want to know when you’re open. It’s the kind of detail people check just before they’re about to walk out the door, just to be sure, and if they can’t easily find out, they might decide to go elsewhere. Don’t assume that your customers will know that you’re open during “regular” business hours. “Regular” means different things in different sectors (grocery stores are typically open than retail stores, for example), and sets up your customer for disappointment.
Holidays can be especially hard to navigate. Be proactive, even if it means posting a temporary message on your website to advise whether you’re open or closed. Your customers will appreciate knowing what to expect.
How you can solve their problem
Believe it or not, your website’s primary purpose isn’t to tell people about you. It’s to tell people what you can do for them. If you sell widgets, that’s great, but your customers want to know if your widgets will solve their problem. Saying that you sell replacement parts for a range of small appliances is a start, but do you sell parts for vacuum cleaners? Likewise, if you offer a service, they want to know if your service is right for them.
There are tons of ways to tell your business’s story — such as blogs, case studies and client testimonials — but to get the most from your website, the main character in the story needs to be your customer, and it needs to be easy for them to follow. Once they see the connection between what they need and what you offer, you have their attention. After that, other information like pricing and availability come into play. But without the first three ingredients, you risk losing them before having the chance to make a pitch.
Also remember that your value proposition for your customers changes over time. The longer you’ve been in business, the more experience you have to offer. That means your website needs to evolve with you. Are you giving your customers what they need today?