Company website should extend customer service

You can take your website to the next level by thinking of it as a crucial extension of your real-world customer service. The rationale here is that your website is the representation of your business online. It’s a 24/7 salesperson, so groom it like you would your front-line staff. Make visiting your website a totally pleasant and fulfilling experience.

Consider these criteria: Is it easy to navigate? How quickly does it load? Are there ever times when the server is down and your site is inaccessible? Not good! What about the look and feel of the site? Is it a clean “showroom” for your brand? Are there pockets of space to settle in there, just like a well-designed store provides “breathing room” amidst its clothes racks and housewares displays?

What about the copy? Is it accessible, clear and to the point? Is it helpful? Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes and think: Are they answering my questions here?

Let’s talk about those people who walk across the screen, with their tiny torsos and loud voices. They really are a vestige of the ‘90s, but if you still have one of those aliens intruding onto the screen on your site, it’s time to decommission him or her. In fact, anything that auto-invokes and blares music is very unwelcome in a work cubicle. Think how quickly you yourself reached for the mute button on your keyboard when luau music gave your Hawaiian vacation planning away in a loud second!

Then there is the latest craze of pop-up screens, ones that ask you to subscribe to a newsletter before you even have become familiar with the website. If you are going to insist that someone take the time to either fill out your prominent form or X out of it – throw the form up only after the visitor has strolled through your site and seen a few pages, or has remained there for a minute or longer.

Think about your visitors as if they were physical customers entering your place of business for the first time. How will you set up a wholly conducive environment for them?

One pet peeve I have is sites that don’t date their blogs or articles. If I’m surfing the web for some information, and get to a site that seems to have all the answers — but they’re out of date, that is a fail. I have to go elsewhere to ensure I have the very latest knowledge. For the best customer service on a website, date everything. Including your copyrights.

Do you provide a search function? A medium to large site needs one to help visitors sort through the information there. It’s a sign that you care if you provide a search function; just be certain that it works like a charm, taking people to the most relevant results.

Chat features are good for business and provide helpful customer service. If you are on a retail site and want to know something right away in order to make your purchasing decision, that knowledgeable person on the other side of the screen can certainly clinch it. But be careful; some chat people are just too chatty. They don’t sit quietly in the background awaiting your query. No, they get right in between you and what you are reading. They might even say something out loud. Yikes.

When I think of companies that provide exquisite customer service in real life, these few leap to mind: Ritz Carlton, the Atlanta Braves, Nordstrom, Ruby Receptionists and FreshBooks.

It would be interesting to see if their websites are as brilliant at customer service as their refined in-person experience. Check them out and see.

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

You can take your website to the next level by thinking of it as a crucial extension of your real-world customer service. The rationale here is that your website is the representation of your business online. It’s a 24/7 salesperson, so groom it like you would your front-line staff. Make visiting your website a totally pleasant and fulfilling experience.

Consider these criteria: Is it easy to navigate? How quickly does it load? Are there ever times when the server is down and your site is inaccessible? Not good! What about the look and feel of the site? Is it a clean “showroom” for your brand? Are there pockets of space to settle in there, just like a well-designed store provides “breathing room” amidst its clothes racks and housewares displays?

What about the copy? Is it accessible, clear and to the point? Is it helpful? Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes and think: Are they answering my questions here?

Let’s talk about those people who walk across the screen, with their tiny torsos and loud voices. They really are a vestige of the ‘90s, but if you still have one of those aliens intruding onto the screen on your site, it’s time to decommission him or her. In fact, anything that auto-invokes and blares music is very unwelcome in a work cubicle. Think how quickly you yourself reached for the mute button on your keyboard when luau music gave your Hawaiian vacation planning away in a loud second!

Then there…