Folks, something just happened, and it was exceptionally tragic. Outrageous. Unheard of. Unbearable. To prevent this same travesty from happening to you, I thought I'd share my experience and give some handy marketing advice while I'm at it (this being SEM Tuesday and all).
Okay, let me back up. I was sitting at my desk, minding my own beeswax and deleting 45 spammy YOUmoz entries (thanks a lot, assholes) when Mel, one of our lovely developers, popped his head up, sniffed audibly, and said, "It smells like Wendy's in here!" As soon as the word "Wendy's" hit my ears, my stomach rumbled a slow, garbled yet audible tone: "baaaaaaaaaaaaked potaaaaaaaatooooooooo." Holy crap, I wanted a baked potato, and I wanted one bad.
My coworkers rallied behind the cause.
Jeff: "Yeah, baked potato!"Scott: "I've been craving a baked potato for like a week!"
The seed had been planted--a hot, buttery, starchalicious seed. We pulled up Yelp to see what the nearest baked potato options were. Aside from a couple of hoity toity sit-down restaurants and a ghetto bar and grill that nobody likes, the closest and most viable option was Wendy's.
That's cool, Wendy's is fine (plus they have Frosties!). Before I left, Arden (our newest hire and admin extraordinaire) had pulled up Wendy's website to peruse the menu so he could decide on what he wanted. After seeing the baked potato offerings, he too wanted a delicious carb extravaganza:
Jeff and Arden each wanted sour cream and chives potato, while Scott opted for broccoli and cheese and I wanted to stuff my face with a bacon and cheese potato. I took down everyone's orders and we ventured out to find the nearest pigtailed ginger girl grinning down at us.
We got to Wendy's and I had the following exchange with the employee:
Me: "Can I get two sour cream and chives baked potatoes..."
Her: "Okay." [punches in order]
Me: "A bacon and cheese baked potato..."
Her: "We don't have those. We only have sour cream and chives."
Me: "SON OF A BITCH!"
Apparently Wendy's stopped carrying the three delicious baked potato options and now only offer "sour cream and chives" as your fixins. The employee noted that "They still carry the other toppings in Canada." Great, why does Canada get delicious melted cheese but we fat Americans don't? No fair. To assuage my outrage, the employee hooked me up with a bunch of bacon strips, which momentarily made me feel better.
advertised on their website
Well, think about how pissed off you get when you're browsing through a website and find a product you really want to buy.
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You click on "Add to Cart" and begin the checkout process, only to find out at the last minute that the product is out of stock or doesn't come in the size/color you specified. Imagine how much more frustrating that is when you research online and want to make an offline purchase--you went to someone's website first and made the decision to make a physical trip to an establishment and purchase a product, and you're told by the employee that the item you made up your mind to purchase isn't available.
You know how frustrating it is to be the consumer when that happens, but as a seller/service provider, do you commit this cardinal sin? Do you offer products or services? Is this list up-to-date? What do you do with listings that are outdated or no longer available? If you forget to update your list of products and services, you're creating false expectations.
Visitors are going to leave your site feeling disappointed, and they very well might associate your website with a negative shopping experience.
To prevent a negative customer experience, try the following:
· Make sure your list of services is constantly updated. If you used to offer a particular service but don't any more, remove it from the list.
· If you still get contacted by folks looking to hire you for services you no longer provide, try to keep them satisfied by referring them to a colleague or to someone who can provide the appropriate service.
· If you have a product that's sold out, specify it loud and clear on that product page. Inform customers when the product will be available again.
You could offer to take back-orders or reserve products for customers in order to minimize grumpiness.
· If your shipping takes longer than expected or if you have an especially disgruntled customer, offset his/her disappointment by offering an added incentive to make up for the inconvenience (free shipping on the next item, a coupon or discount, a free item, etc). Obviously you can't do this with every single customer,
but if you make an effort to save the really pissed off ones, you're investing in your own reputation management.
· If the product is being discontinued or will no longer be carried, don't leave it on your site to rot.
301-redirect any links to that product and point them to a similar product or to an appropriate category page.
· If you have a physical store location (or several franchises) and advertise a product or deal on your website that may not be applicable or available in stores (ahem, Wendy's), explicitly state that on the page (e.g., "
Offer may not be available in select stores," "Product may not be in stock in our physical storefronts").
What other suggestions/preventative measures you can think of? I'd love to hear them so that I can mail them to Wendy's and tell them they owe me a bacon cheese-baked potato.
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