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Website Savvy: 10 Key Steps to Turn Your Customers ON!

"How to turn "slightly interested" customers into "I've got to have it!" customers!"

I am truly amazed as to the lack of information websites contain. You would think that a business would realize that a potential customer would at least like to know how to contact the customer service department. But, you'd be astonished at how many times I've actually come across NO information on the business except "place your order here". That truly leaves the customer with a feeling of abandonment. Since I visit so many websites throughout the year, I wanted to list some of the top 10 things I look for when making the decision whether to purchase or not.

Number 1: Include some type of contact info.

You need to make sure the customer has some type of information to contact you after the sale. If you happen to work out of your home, think about getting a post office box or a mail station. I realize that still doesn't tell the customer your physical address, but it's always nice to know the city, state, or even country of the company involved. And by all means, add a phone number to this list.

Number 2: Update your website often.

If you list your copyright or other dated information, make sure it is changed on a regular basis and includes the current year. Nothing is more frightening than to purchase from a website selling e-books or software that is older than a few years old. It always makes me think I'm getting old information that was written for a different set of problems. Now I know that copyrights should have the year they were developed, but list the year it was established plus the current year. For example, list your copyright like this - ? 2000 ? 2004. Customers won't enter their personal information (especially credit cards) on a site that looks like it's been abandoned. So, take a long look at your site and see if something needs to be freshened and brought up to date and then do it.

Number 3: Make your benefits clear.

Most companies will list the product or service features, but that doesn't tell a potential customer how this will help solve their problem. The best sites I've visited, not only list the features, but have a separate list detailing the benefits for each. It's easy to say you're the best in your field and you're the only ones that do "this" ? whatever your "this" is, but go a step further and tell the customer what that means to them. In other words, what's in it for them? If you have trouble defining your benefits, ask the one person that would know best ? your customers! If they are happy with your products or services, they will be able to tell you what problem it overcomes and the benefit they receive. Besides, what better way to find out how you're doing in servicing their needs?

Number 4: Watch for broken links.

How many times have you tried to click on a link and it goes nowhere? It's sometimes hard to believe that when we develop our websites and include working links, in a short period of time the links become broken. Why would this happen? Well, if other sites are like ours, they are always changing the information included on the site. In other words, the page link you have listed on your website might get renamed without the benefit of a redirect link attached. Then if your customer clicks on that link, they will be left to wonder just how old this information might be. The best way to stay on top of this is to check your links often and ask the visitors of your site to report back to you if they find a broken link.

Number 5: Make it easy to purchase.

If you're doing business on the internet, you'll need to have some way for your customers to pay. The best way is to accept credit cards. If you don't have a merchant account already, the easiest way to get set up immediately is through services like Pay Pal, Clink Bank, and 2Checkout. But, you still need to add other convenient ways to shop for those that prefer not to purchase online. Make sure you list a mailing address, a phone number, or even a fax number they can send their payments. You'd be surprised at the number of individuals and companies that would prefer to send their payment (even if it's a credit card purchase), rather than send their personal information over the internet.

Number 6: Don't use pushy sales talk.

You'd be surprised at how many times I'm shopping on the internet that I find people using the old tactic "buy right this minute or you'll never see this price again". I know that's now going to make me buy immediately, in fact, it will probably cost that company my business. I don't like to feel "bullied" into buying anything. Now that's not to say that you shouldn't run a sale occasionally. But, if you do, list the time period of the sale for everyone to see. Just make sure you don't tell every customer that visits that they must purchase now (today), because most customers will price shop and compare products before they purchase.

Number 7: List your guarantee.

Everyone wants to feel that if a service or product they've purchased is not up to the standards or expectations they thought, that the company will take care of them. And because of that, you should always list a guarantee. It doesn't have to be a lifetime warranty, but it should be a reasonable amount of time or a reasonable procedure to follow in order to return an item. And better yet, if you have the type of service or product that you could allow a limited amount of time for a "test drive", it will decrease the apprehension some people have about doing business with someone they don't know.

Number 8: Include your privacy policy.

This is one of my big pet peeves. I want to know how my personal information or email is going to be used. I always read the privacy policy before entering any of my information. If I feel like my privacy is not going to be protected, then I move on to the next company. So make sure you list yours and make it easy to obtain.

Number 9: Include a terms and conditions.

This is also a way to convey to your customers and potential customers how your company does business. This is the place to list exactly how you do business and in what conditions you will offer a refund or replacement. You have to take into account that the majority of your customers or not looking for something for nothing. Now I will admit there will always be a small percentage of your customers that will try to take advantage of you, but you'll find most customers just want to be treated fair and know you'll take care of them.

Number 10: Explain all the steps in making the purchase.

After they've purchased, do you tell them what the next step will be? Will they be able to download their purchase? If so, how long before they'll know where to log in? Or, if you ship your product or service, when can they expect delivery? These are just a few of the things you should let them know as soon as they purchase. Nothing can be more frustrating than to make a purchase and then have to call the company a week later wondering where your order is. Make sure you explain each step and show them what great customer service you provide right from the beginning.

That's my favorite list of how I like to do business online and I hope these 10 key steps will help you as you develop your company online. Just remember, treat your customers with the same great care you like offered to you and they'll keep coming back for more.

About The Author

Website Savvy: 10 Key Steps to Turn Your Customers ON! by ? Carmen Wisenbaker, President of Penworth Publishing, http://www.penworth.com Carmen has been in the publishing industry for more than 23 years. Because she has so many subjects that have to be researched, she spends a good deal of her time on the internet. Many times when looking for products to purchase, she comes across many websites that tend to hinder the sale. This article covers her favorite pet peeves about what to do and what not to do, in order to get your customer to purchase online. You may use this article in your newsletter as long as the contact information is included and the article is used "as is" with no alterations. ? 2004 Carmen Wisenbaker.

This article can be viewed online at http://www.penworth.com/web_savvy.htm or sent by an auto-responder at article622@penworth.com

carmen@penworth.com

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