What If Your Website Was a Brick and Mortar Store?

I’m headed off to London for a few weeks to see a few of our partners and customers, which I always enjoy. Although, to put it mildly, I am really not a fan of sitting on a plane for more than a few hours. In preparation for the long flight, I thought an upgraded seat might make the 12-hour trip a little more bearable.

To take care of it in advance, I logged into the airline’s website, put in my confirmation code and voila: My flight details appeared. Things seemed pretty typical and straightforward as with any airline website, and by clicking ‘change my seat’ I was brought to the seating chart. It was very clear that there were a number of upgraded seats available, but when I clicked on them nothing happened. Frustration began to set in pretty much instantly and then I just started clicking all over like a hyperactive two-year-old who has never used a mouse before… Nada.

I ended up clicking around for what must have been 20 minutes knowing now that I would probably have to face the horror of picking up the phone to attempt to get a live agent if I actually wanted to make this upgrade happen. I am officially an unsatisfied customer; PLEASE give me a survey right now!

Imagine how frustrated you would be going into a store and walking around in circles for 20 minutes without anyone coming over to help. With the advancements in data and marketing technology now available, there is no excuse that the online experience should be any different. The airline knows I’m a frequent flyer and I am clearly attempting to change my seat…A little help here guys?

The web is amazing because everything is measurable and nowadays it can also be personalized and engaging. Historically, customers have engaged the web, but now it’s time for the web to engage the customer.

Just doing a quick web search, you can easily find dozens of articles and studies full of stats that point to this shift, including a recent survey from ACCENT Marketing that found, “nearly 90 percent of consumers say personalized interactions with brands drive their purchase decisions.” Forrester also indicated in a blog entitled, “Top Trends For Customer Service in 2014” posted back in January that they expect many “organizations in 2014 will explore the power of proactive pre-purchase and post-purchase engagements that anticipate the what, when, where and how for customers.”

This evidence just reinforces my thoughts on this subject, and tells me that very soon, not engaging customers based on personal online interactions will be absolutely detrimental to the success for any and every organization.

And no, I didn’t get that beloved seat upgrade. It turns out by the time I figured out how to get it, a very long wait list had already formed. I’m really looking forward to staring at that seat back six inches from my face for 12 hours.

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