It’s 2010 – and I’m disappointed by the web

I feel I’ve spent the last 12 years of life, my career, trying to help people do things better.  Helping them make better systems, better experiences, better websites.  And I would expect that there are other people like me doing similar things for similar organisations.

But still I see so many organisations just getting it wrong, and I think I’ve figured out why.  Fundamentally these organisations (I’m going to just say ‘people’ from now on) are making flawed business process decisions.  The decisions they are making about what to do on their website are being made with the concept being “how can I make this easier for me”.  Wrong!

It’s not about you – it should never be about you

So what do I mean by ‘you’ – who is ‘you’?  You is the organisation you work for.  ‘You’ is the one making decisions about your business, your products and services, your communications and strategy.  ‘You’ might be the CEO, it might be the IT department, the marketing department, the membership team, or perhaps the worst offender – the accounting/finance department.

When you make decisions with ‘you’ in mind what you are doing is leaving out the customer altogether.  You are forgetting about their experience with your organisation and forgetting that without ‘them’ there would be a ‘you’ in the first place.

It’s the internet – and it’s instant

Put your hand up if your website has a ‘contact us’ form of some sort, perhaps something like the one used by the Zoom Teeth Whitening Centre right here in Melbourne.  My goal was simple – get an appointment.  If only the process was simple.

Firstly I found this organisation by doing a google search for teeth whitening melbourne, and at the top of the results was an advertisement for these guys.  Now I know a little about advertising on the web (in fact I know alot about it) and I know that anything that has a customer value of $495 is a highly competitive keyword search market.  Suffice to say that this organisation would be paying considerably for each and every click on that advert.  And to be honest it’s being waisted right now.

After taking a few seconds to look around their site I decided to hit the contact us form.  Alot of information requested but hey – if they’re asking for it then it must be important right?  And if you take a second to actually look at the form – it even asks when I’d like to have my appointment, day and time.  Hit the go button and sit back.

And then you wait.

And you wait some more.

And nothing happens.  Days go by and nothing happens.  Weeks go by and still nothing.

I don’t think my expectations are too high here – I think if I take the time to fill in your online form – provide all the appropriate information and follow the rules – then it’s common courtesy that you would take the time to respond to it.  I’d be happy to wait perhaps an hour, perhaps two, and reluctantly wait a day.  Anything more is just wasted time, effort, and dollars.  Not my dollars, yours.

Shouldn’t the response be instant?  Shouldn’t the receptionist be getting an email or an alert that says “someone did something you need to pay attention to?”  If I chose to pick up the phone then they would get an alert – a black box on their desk would ring.  Why is it so different with web forms?

I’d love to hear your experiences, good and bad.

This just has to stop.  At some point organisations operating like this need to realise that the thousands of dollars they spent building their website, optimising it for google and paying for the click through adverts is completely wasted if they aren’t taking the customer experience into account.  It’s not about ‘you’, it’s about ‘me’.