Listen to customers. That has been a marketing mantra for as long as I’ve been studying this wonderful world of advertising. One of the things the Internet has taught us is that people want to explore, research and, in many cases, buy without ever talking to a real person. Unless, of course, they want to talk with a real person. People love the choice and to be in control of the process.
I watched with interest as my spouse tried to navigate an online newspaper check out. She wanted to order the newspaper online (yes, actually pay for the content). The information was all online, but when she got to the end she either had to call someone at the paper or they would call her. Wrongo. This is the Internet. She just wanted to do it (late at night, when the newspaper circulation office was closed) and move on. She didn’t want the call. Needless to say, the calling issue, and a few other nettlesome glitches, caused her to not sign up.
I believe that people are telling us they want to be able to control their transactions, research them at their own pace and buy when they are interested, not when we are necessarily “open.” I also believe that people who want to deal online, prefer to stay in the online venue throughout the transaction (unless they have problems). Requiring people to call a number rather than handle the “sale” online defeats the purpose. And, may kill the process once the person has had time to ‘cool’ to your offer.
So listen. You customers may be telling you something even when you are closed. They are saying, “We want to be in control.” So give them the opportunity to do business with you online.