Web customers crave speed, not emotional experiences

Great websites focus on solving top customer tasks. They solve problems as quickly as possible.

“We’re trying very hard to get you something fast,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated recently. “Never underestimate the power of fast. Quick, quick, quick–we want to help you right now.” Speed is the essence of the modern economy. The more advanced the economy, the more its citizens crave speed.

People don’t want experiences on websites. They don’t want to emotionally bond with a website. When was the last time you felt delighted after you booked a flight? Did you have a great experience booking that cinema ticket or did you have a great experience at the cinema?

How do you make a customer loyal today? “To really win their loyalty, forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems,” a September 2010 Harvard Business Review (HBR) report states. The report entitled, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” goes on to state that, “The idea that companies must “delight” their customers has become so entrenched that managers rarely examine it. But ask yourself this: How often does someone patronize a company specifically because of its over-the-top service? You can probably think of a few examples, such as the traveler who makes a point of returning to a hotel that has a particularly attentive staff. But you probably can’t come up with many.”

On the Web, the customer is no longer king. They’re dictator. They don’t give their loyalty easily. They do, however, get annoyed easily. “Consumers’ impulse to punish bad service—at least more readily than to reward delightful service—plays out dramatically in both phone-based and self-service interactions, which are most companies’ largest customer service channels,” the HBR report continues. “In those settings, our research shows, loyalty has a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic, even plain-vanilla promises than on how dazzling the service experience might be. Yet most companies have failed to realize this and pay dearly in terms of wasted investments and lost customers.”

Great websites continuously improve customer top tasks. It is about a daily grind of incremental improvements. In a difficult economy it has never been more important to focus on the basics.

According to the HBR report, you create loyal customers today by “reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved. Acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.”

Separate research from Microsoft and Google shows that it only takes a quarter of a second delay in page loading time for customer frustration to build. Microsoft found that a 2 second delay resulted in a 4 percent loss in revenue. MarketingExperiments research has found that there is a vital 7 seconds a page has to convince a customer to stay.

You build brand loyalty on the Web by helping customers complete their tasks as quickly as possible.

The User and Business Impact of Server Delays, Additional Bytes, and HTTP Chunking in Web Search 

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