Do you still rely on company Websites when you need more than the information about a program a company is running? Say you want to do something with it and before you make the final decision, you want to be able to see a couple of steps ahead:
- will this be a tricky process that will require time on your end?
- is there a catch? Did you miss some of the fine print?
- is this one of those where you hardly ever get to use points for what you want to do?
And many more questions along the same lines. When your friends are not talking about a program, you do look at it with more scrutiny, regardless of whether the program sounds good or indifferent to you. You're all familiar with the crowded restaurant or coffee shop metaphor.
This is a question of content -- for example, is it clear what the steps are in the process? What can someone expect if they do what you ask them to do? And of presentation. How you present information allows you to attract or repell readers -- for example, is site navigation intuitive? Will the browser lock for longer than ten seconds? Is there visual transparency and feedback that tells people where they are in the process?
Just like your customers don't have the time to get on a phone loop with your 800-number anymore, they are unwilling to embark on a Website browsing to nowhere fast -- so much to do, so little time. And one more thought: people are increasingly sophisticated about seeing through marketing spin.
Too many burned bridges between the allure of a reward and the harsh reality of lack of true commitment to customer loyalty by businesses have raised the bar on the promise. Customer lifetime value is a two-way street.
A deeper reason why customers turn to each other
There is, however, a deeper reason why your customers turn to each other -- and that is that they get an immediate focused reply instead of having to wade through clumsy content on your site [hat tip: Bernd Nurnberger]. It also means they have the feeling that peers are in it to help, while the business purely for profit [contribution: Brian Driggs].
The immediate, focused reply should not be that hard to replicate if an organization is monitoring online conversations and listening. Listening is so much more than monitoring. Among the advantages of listening is the ability to help people with shared interests collaborate and connect -- even based upon their desire to turn to each other for help and support.
Abraham Maslow believed that people are motivated by the urge to satisfy needs ranging from basic survival to self-fulfillment. He found that people don't fill the higher-level needs until the lower-level ones are satisfied. In the book Community Building on the Web (Amazon affiliate link), Amy Jo Kim uses Maslow hierarchy to clarify the goals and needs of online community participants.
In support situations, people already have an articulated purpose, which is why they are inclined to look to each other more strongly for that response and answer. How can you change the customer experience so that your business is part of the positive conversation and solution?