Training the Turkeys

Thanksgiving Day, and you’re reading work-related stuff. Today is the day for stuffing, not stuff. But since you’re here, let’s talk turkey. Sometimes you have to train the turkeys who visit your site. You know who I mean.

The e-browsers and e-cynics (about 26% of site visitors) who never intend to buy or who abort mid-purchase clutter up your servers and deliver no ROI. Some nerve! Today, be thankful for them. Tomorrow, sort your customer relationship management (CRM) data to find out exactly where they disconnect. There’s your ROI — a clear map to where education is needed.

Recently, IT-Director.com’s consideration of e-CRM noted that in the sales environment, the customer goes through “three main phases of activity — education, purchase, and after-sales care.” Education is the first activity. But you knew that.

Education is a key to customer self-service because the customers feel empowered. Its benefit to you is that warm, fuzzy empowerment increases customer loyalty. The structure of the self-service process must integrate instructional information all along the way. Of course, you’ll want to start with those pages on which nonbuyers usually exit. But sit back, have a second (third?) slice of pumpkin pie, and think this process all the way through.

The key steps requiring clear information are:

  1. FAQ page

  2. The product catalog
  3. Requirements specification forms
  4. Shopping cart maintenance
  5. Checkout
  6. Post-sale problems

Before you settle in for the football game, let’s take a little stroll down those steps into (we hope) the garden of profit.

The FAQ page is the first place visitors look for an overall sense of the site’s purpose, policies, and products. They’ll also go there right away to find the answer to a specific question. Your tactic: Update the FAQ page frequently based on the questions or “problems” that come to your service reps.

The product catalog attracts visitors early in their search. If they know the kind of item they want or have a specific item in mind, they’ll hit the catalog first for a straightforward decision on whether you offer it. Your tactic: Make the catalog fast and easy to search with no more than two clicks to the display of the target item or items, and keep the product description clear and factual (no hype).

Requirements specification forms let the visitor define all the attributes of the product desired. These visitors expect to spend some time filling out the spec sheet because they know it’s the only way to get exactly what they want — a customized product. Your tactic: Invest in a solid database (knowledge base) environment and an efficient search engine for it that sorts quickly through your product knowledge base.

Shopping cart maintenance holds the visitors’ hands as they become customers. They need reassurance that they’re in a secure environment and their privacy is protected, and they want to know exactly what they’re buying and how much they’re paying. Your tactic: Prominently display on every page of the purchase process:

  • Security assurance

  • Privacy policy brief statement and link to the full policy
  • A “Need help?” button that immediately initiates a chat session or phone call with a service rep
  • List of products being purchased
  • Exact price, including any discounts
  • Tax (if applicable)
  • Shipping fee and delivery schedule for each shipping option

Checkout is the critical moment and page at which the plastic meets the web. Last-minute cold-feet issues arise: Is my credit card information really secure? Did I order the delivery method I really want? Will I be able to track the delivery before it lands on my doorstep? Your tactic: Give them the answers. Display all order information on this page. Reiterate the security assurance, including the statement that you purge credit card information as soon as the transaction clears the credit card company. Tell them that after they click “Submit,” you’ll give them an order number for tracking — and display it prominently on the order confirmation page. Remind them to print that page, and email it to them as well.

Post-sale problems arise, no matter how conscientious you are about customer service. Business isn’t about perfection, it’s about the elegant, generous “save.” Your tactic: Plan ahead for responsive, helpful, person-to-person resolutions to problems such as late delivery, broken or improperly functioning products, incorrect billing, and every other nightmare you’ve already encountered or heard of.

Recess: If you’ve been sitting in front of the glowing screen for more than half an hour, you need to take a break. Get UP. Go schmooze with your family and friends — or the dog, the cat, or the pigeons in the park. If you’re in a solitary mood, exercise your brain and your grin.

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