Does your website let customers pick options that you know aren’t available? To get the most out of your website, it should automate the validation of customers’ selections.
My wife and I have been trying for months to get reservations at a local restaurant, Fonda San Miguel. Their website offers an online reservation system. I tried to schedule a lunch reservation and the system told me it had been accepted without issue. I later received a phone call from the restaurant telling me that they aren’t open for lunch.
Why was I able to request a reservation for a time that they aren’t open? Their reservation form had an open text field for entering reservation times:
Leverage the automation possible with your website to set proper expectations with customers.
At work, my team maintains a suite of online product configuration tools called Advisors. Since our products are complicated, it is easier to prevent customers from making mistakes than try to explain afterward why a selection isn’t compatible. In our Advisors, we gray out incompatible selections so we don’t have to bark at you when they don’t work.
Don’t let customers make selections that you know are bad. As the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Ask at the Right Time
I was recently looking for some office supplies on the Office Depot website. When I added the product to cart, the site asked me for my zip code. When I entered that number, the site claimed that the product wasn’t available. So why did it let me add to cart in the first place?
Customers expect online stores to be location agnostic. Even if my local store doesn’t have the product, you should be able to ship it to me from your big warehouse. This perception is especially true of larger national chains, like Office Depot.
If you have local stores or dependencies, ask for the zip code up front. Lowes.com does this to show you store availability.
You Can Be Perfect
You can build your website to prevent errors from happening. Only allow customers to pick products or selections that are valid choices. If prevention doesn’t work, use the automation to your advantage and alert customers immediately that something is amiss.