OK – Let’s Start with the SECRET…
PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception.
These days, with the emergence and growth of open source development platforms, and templates galore available for “plug-n-play” design, practically ANYONE can have an impressive looking website up and running in a matter of days or weeks. If you’ve hired an SEO Consultant, you can even get your site ranked well and start to drive some great traffic. Add a few bells and whistles, and BOOM – you are going to ROCK the WORLD …right???
Unfortunately there are far too many business start-ups that fall into this famous trap – “Let’s make our front end cool and engaging and focus on driving sales…and (whether conscious or sub-conscious) worry about the back-end details later”. ouch – that’s gonna leave a mark.
I’m not a huge Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) fan – but I’ve got to hand it to him on his “One Shot” lyrics:
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime
In business, when you are competing with known-entities and big-box players, you have to bite and scratch your way just to get noticed. What you do with your 15 minutes of fame at this point means EVERYTHING in terms of whether you are capable of turning ONE sale into MANY (repeat) sales – and if you can leverage loyalists and influencers to catapult sales exponentially. This is where we come squarely back to User Experience (UX).
At the risk of over-simplifying – Let’s define some of the key components of UX:
- Search: is your SEO where it needs to be – and is it meshed with a little merchandising magic that gives the shopper the sense that you not only have what they are looking for, but is able to ‘speak’ to them as a real solution to their ‘problem’?
- Landing Pages: did you lead the shopper to the promised land or a rabbit hole? being vigilant about SEO – creating content, testing and re-testing results – help to assure that site users feel like you are intelligently focused on meeting THEIR needs.
- Brand / Design: a critical moment in the ‘first impression’ department is undoubtedly the immediate response to your brand image. Is your site fresh, distinct, engaging, clean, clear, compelling? Does it effectively build confidence? Does it effectively and clearly lead the user to the purchase? Is it free of distractions and roadblocks that lead to site bounce and cart abandonment?
- User Tools: are the site features and search tools geared toward the user needs and goals – or toward your own goals? If you hire someone to coordinate some focus group testing, I promise you will be surprised by what you see and hear. Put the POWER into the hands of your core audiences by crafting and delivering tools that make their ‘jobs’ easier. In B2C, an example might be offering rich faceted search. In B2B an example might be a creating a customized product finder (think: Year-Make-Model in the auto-dealer world).
- Checkout: have you finally made the effort to simplify this? most new customers will get checkout fatigue by the third page… Make your checkout simple, clean and quick (one-page preferred) and find subtle ways to display your accreditation’s from BBB, Security Org, etc. Did I say SUBTLE? PLEASE – do not have 5 different logos with 5 different colors that clash with your brand plastered all over the place. This will only serve to distract and turn-off buyers.
- The Fulfillment Bundle: ah yes…one of my favorites…because it is often under-appreciated, under-analyzed and under-delivered. The heart of this article rests in recognizing and attacking the opportunity you have to close the case with your buyers – transforming them into raving fans and apostles of your brand. Analyze your product storage and handling, quality controls, commitment to handling and time-to-fulfillment windows, packaging, invoices, marketing materials, labels, scanning, tracking, delivery and all communications that are part of this key component.
- Customer Service: while this seems obvious, it is worth noting the importance of viewing customer service as your primary brand ambassadors. (We will address the importance and etiquette of your social media team in a later post). From pre-sales to post-sales and returns – making sure your service team is fully indoctrinated in the BRAND and has a clear, repeatable, customer-centric process for EVERYTHING is absolutely critical.
So here it is: Fulfillment & Customer Service and the PROCESSES that drive these are the components that reveal the REAL YOU – ultimately how your customer will remember you. This is why I say:
PROCESS is the Foundation of True Perception
In every business, whether service or product related, there must be a detailed process for delivery and support. Without a process, services are delivered in an inconsistent and mostly unreliable fashion – and product delivery without a detailed process may be good one day and shoddy the next (based on who is doing what, and on the whim of an employee who might not have your best interest at heart). Process is the foundation of perception – it is what distinguishes and defines who you are in large part to those who take that first leap of faith to purchase from YOU instead of your competitors.
I have seen the dramatic (positive) effects of focusing on UX from beginning to END – in my own businesses and that of many MANY clients. I know I am a nerd, but this is what excites me about what I do…I live and breathe it every day. I hope a little encouragement and direction can help you do the same 🙂