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Customers Are Getting No Respect On-Line

Study: Customers still looking for respect at company Web sites. Many companies need to stop treating on-line customers as second-class citizens, the report says. [Computerworld E-business News]

This 330-page study by The Consumer Respect Group ranks the largest 100 companies in the US by their responses to on-line inquiries and other customer satisfaction measures. With the competition only a few clicks away, who can afford to make these mistakes, study shows companies can do more to improve customer relations on-line. While the report covers both B2C and B2B companies, it's something to consider.

While this group found some interesting things about the companies they studied, I found it difficult to buy the complete report. In fact, once on their site I found navigation difficult (i.e. finding pricing, finding specific products) and key phrases identifying products were not contextually linked.

The following areas could be improved to make the visitors experience more enjoyable.

  1. Logically link visitor desired information in context. The data sheet link at the bottom of the product page returned me back to the product page. I was expecting to receive order information about the products described in the prior paragraph.
  2. Individual pages are masked by a hidden URL and some odd tracking system making it difficult to link to individual content elements. If bookmarked I can only return to the home page. Make it easy for visitors to reference the pages they desire from your site.
  3. Content structure doesn't contribute to navigation. I see great product elements (i.e. product title, description, then order information) on the home page, but in the middle of the product page I expect the same after the description of their two key products.
  4. Use PDF documents carefully. You should reserve PDF documents for things you expect your visitors to print out, but also make HTML available because it loads faster. They only have PDF's of their news releases and other critical information on their website -- most people won't bother to read them because it takes longer for them to load.

The following elements I found very useful about their site and I recommend to anyone who wants to create new customer relationships.

  1. Invite visitor interaction offering other communications channels. They provide a button where you can have them call you -- yes, give them some basic information and they will have someone call you right away. They also offer the option to contact them via email or mail.
  2. Information about privacy policy on the data collection pages. By letting me know about their privacy policy I feel a bit more comfortable about sharing information with them. Always let your visitors know how you will use the information you request -- especially on-line.
  3. Make your contact information very easy to find. Their contact information is very easy to find and is available from every page on their site. Plus, when you get to the contact page they include both offices (United States and Ireland) which better supports international visitors.

I didn't mean to go into an analysis on their site, I've just been working on a new report "How B2B Companies Build Powerful Strategic Relations On-line" so the topic is fresh in mind. (If you are a coaching or paid newsletter subscriber, write me and I'll send you a pre-publication review copy of my report.) Overall The Consumer Respect Group's website was very useful and to get coverage in ComputerWorld they have to be doing something right!

/ b2b-websites | customer-service /

By Justin Hitt at June 26, 2003 2:52 AM  Subscribe in a reader


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