Creating Remarkable Customer Experiences Online

Article by:
Angela Randall EO Houston
Angela Randall
EO Houston

Want to know what really ruins a Web site’s user experience?

Bending over backwards in an attempt to please each customer. Many eager business owners conclude that the only way to satisfy a customer is to cater to his every whim. The result is ambiguous, be-everything-to everybody customer experiences. Product teams try to incorporate every feature ever requested, while service teams try to be so flexible in their offerings that it’s no longer clear what the company specializes in. Of course, this ends up being counter-productive. When I work with clients, I emphasize three non-obvious solutions to create a better customer experience on the Web. These solutions are based on our history designing and user-testing software applications:

  • Reduce the amount of choices: Choices give customers the illusion of being in control, but they’re actually a cognitive burden. Having to decide between too many choices becomes work. Here’s an example: A design-it-yourself shades and blinds company couldn’t figure out why so few customers chose their feature-rich product line, when their competitors offered far fewer customization options online. After investigating, we found that the sheer number of available options overwhelmed and intimidated potential customers, making the competitor’s simpler experience more manageable. Removing the least-used options and hiding others under “Advanced Features” on their Web site helped the company streamline its offerings.

  • Tell your customers what to do: Seriously, order them about.
    When I tell my clients this, they look at me funny. Thing is, most people know what to do in a store, but on the Web, it’s not always obvious how to take the next step. Don’t expect customers to hunt around on your site for a phone number or e-mail. That’s too much work. Instead, take the work out of navigating your site by using clear calls to action like “Learn more,” “Request a free evaluation” and “Buy now.” One of our clients, a continuing education provider, didn’t understand why people weren’t signing up for their courses. We added a prominent “Register now” button to the course-description page. Problem solved.

  • Observe, don’t listen to, your customers: What customers want and what they say they want are two different things. The only way to learn the truth is to watch their behavior. Basic analytics software will tell you which of your site’s pages people visit most and how long they spend there. There are also more sophisticated tools that track users’ movements to give you an idea of what people are reading on your site, and where they’re getting stuck in forms. Ultimately, sitting next to a customer performing prescribed tasks on your Web site or application is the best way to discover reasons why users call customer support instead of searching the documentation, or why so many of them quit on the last step of a process.

For example, an African national oil company had built an oil-trading application that was intended to track US$160 billion worth of oil annually … but nobody used it. Since the users had meticulously described their workflow, the developers assumed the problem must be technical— “We need more servers!” User testing revealed, however, that the users’ workflow wasn’t really sequential as they had described. Instead, they saved up all their orders for entry in a single batch at the end of the day. After modifying the interface to facilitate batch entries, adoption skyrocketed. Of course, we would never advocate treating customers with anything less than dignity.

EO Q &A: The Power of EO Leadership

One of the most rewarding experiences you can have as an EO member is to get involved in a leadership position at the local or EO Global level. Just ask EO Detroit’s Dave Galbenski, EO’s FY2008/2009 Global Chairman and 25th Anniversary Taskforce Chairman. In this interview, Dave talks about the value of EO leadership and the impact it has on his life and business.

What inspired you to pursue the EO Path to Leadership?

“Outside of God and family, EO has been, and continues to be, the biggest influence on my ongoing personal development. In fact, my involvement in EO leadership has been the single, most significant driver of such development. I believe that we all have opportunities in life that we can pursue to develop ourselves. Mine began as EO Detroit Forum Chair in 2001, continued through to the EO Global Board from 2006-2009 and continues today as I collaborate with global EO members to realize EO’s 25th Anniversary in 2012.

“My initial inspiration to get involved came from observing the energy and passion of EO leaders at the local and Global level. My ongoing inspiration comes from my belief that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking present the best way forward for global peace and prosperity. There is no better place to pursue such a noble goal than through EO, as we transform our members and accelerate their ability to make a positive impact on the world.” How has EO made you a better leader in business and life?

“The skills that I have learned in EO leadership are equally applicable to all aspects of my life, business and family. Thanks to EO, I have developed an increased global awareness and perspective, learned invaluable strategic-planning tools, acquired effective meeting-management techniques, and become a better listener on all levels, just to name a few benefits.”

Why should members pursue EO leadership positions on a chapter, regional or
Global level?

“My first decade involved in EO leadership has taught me that all EO members should RELISH the opportunity to pursue leadership positions. For me, the ‘why’ is simple: I created life-long Relationships; gained Experience in a multitude of situations; fueled my passion to Learn; was Inspired by the commitment of member leaders and EO Global staff; felt a sense of Significance in pursuing the mission of our organization; and was Honored to serve and represent all of our amazing entrepreneurs around the world. As I enter my second decade of EO leadership, I look forward to mentoring the next generation of EO leaders to further our mission and vision.”

What lessons did you take away from your leadership experience, and how did you apply them to your community?

“Two key lessons were the power of setting ‘ground rules’ for group interaction during meetings, and the necessity to define a leadership structure and process when establishing a working group. I am a member of my city council, and was recently tasked with chairing a group of residents that formed a commission to study the city’s options as it related to our future commitments and liabilities associated with providing health care benefits to current and future retirees.

My EO lessons led me to create a written leadership structure and decision-making process at the outset, and facilitate the initial session to define our ‘core’ values as to how we were going to conduct the meetings. Without my EO leadership experience, I am certain I would have encountered additional hurdles throughout the process. Thank you, EO!”

Interested in becoming an EO leader? Contact Linda Surles, EO’s Director of Global Board Operations, at lsurles@eonetwork.org.

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