A close up view of a "stop here on red signal" sign in French and English amid road construction.
PHOTO: Valmedia

Last month, I was on the phone with a customer discussing new functionality that we are developing. During our conversation he suggested I look at a vendor he thought would be great for us to integrate with. I’d never heard of the company so set off to learn what I could about what they did and how, and that’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.

Their website is beautiful — great design and great navigation. The text about their products and applications is well written but short and succinct. To dive into details requires clicking on links, buttons and videos, and it’s there I ran into trouble.

Their site has clearly been optimized to collect email addresses so virtually everything of any educational value is gated. I wanted to learn about their product so willingly provided my email address — over and over and over again. It was so over the top that it disrupted my efforts to learn about the product and its application.

A glutton for punishment, I decided to start fresh the day after and went back to the site. This time I paid attention to the chatbot when it asked me what brought me to the site and though I answered “I’m browsing” and they clearly knew who I was since they gave me a “welcome back Anita” call out, I still got a prompt to enter an email address.

welcome back anita

I know that there is a marketer that is working hard to fill the top of the funnel with email addresses, and I applaud the effort. Having said that, it is clear that these efforts have not considered the customer experience. I don’t mind providing my email address once. It’s the multiple times that made the experience miserable. If you have collected my email address then please, please just open the gates. You don’t need my email address 10 times over. One and done would have completely changed my experience.

Related Article: Beware the Customer Experience Metrics Manipulators

Scarred By Poor Customer Experiences

Because of this experience, I find myself hyper-sensitive to poor customer experiences (I’ve been scarred). Another day, I was on the site of a vendor whose product I use and like very much.

I was having an issue with my login and needed some help so I engaged with the chatbot. All went well until I got to the “Hang tight let me connect you to a team member” message. Ten minutes later I was still “hanging tight.” If you have limited staff and can’t guarantee a reasonable response time i.e., 1-2 minutes, then move the conversation to email. I would much rather have the chatbot respond saying that my issue has been submitted and someone would be emailing me within two hours than sit around hoping that hanging tight would eventually pay off.

chatbot

Marketing and Webinar Customer Experience

Another area where marketing and the customer experience collides is webinars. According to Outgrow, the average webinar receives 260 registrations with 40-50% of registrants actually attending. These registrants are high-value targets having demonstrating interest in your topic by registering for your event. It makes sense to record your webinar and then send a link to the recording to those that registered and didn’t make the event.

What doesn’t make sense is to post the webinar recording in its entirety as a piece of content that you hope someone will interact with on your site. The problem is that no one wants to consume that content in its original form. Of course, there are exceptions, if you’re covering a super-hot topic or have a high-profile speaker you may find that you get good engagement, but for the average company-oriented spiel no one wants to sit through a 45-minute video when they are browsing your site trying to understand what you do.

Why does this happen? It happens because marketing invests time and money producing a 45–60-minute webinar. They don’t meet their registration or attendance goals but position it as still a good investment because “it will be good content for the site” and then proceed to clutter their site with content with which nobody engages.

I actually did click on one of these videos recently and sat through the full 45 minutes of the webinar. It was a frustrating experience. There was some really good content within the video but it was buried by time spent on webinar logistics, introduction of speakers, and general scene setting. The right approach would have been to extract the quality information from the recording and use it to create one or more videos each no longer than three minutes in length which would have been a far better customer experience.

Related Article: How Mature Is Your Content Organization?

Don't Let Customer Experience Become an Afterthought

There is so much pressure on marketing teams to deliver metrics related to lead acquisition and return on investment for programs that the customer experience is becoming an afterthought. I propose including customer experience goals as part of any new program plan and then reviewing how well they were achieved alongside # of leads generated, and ROI. If we don’t keep customer experience top of mind the problem is going to get worse as teams come under more pressure and new technology makes it easier to create experience hurdles.

You’ll notice I didn’t call out any brand by name and that was deliberate; they are all companies with excellent products. As marketers we are always trying to balance competing demands and deliver on the metrics for which we're measured. Sometimes things don’t work out as they should; and that’s true for all of us. It’s been good to experience and think about these challenges and internalize the lessons they’ve delivered:

  • Do gate content but once you’ve collected contact details remove the gates — once you know me your analytics programs should be able to tell you what I’m doing with your content.
  • Do introduce bot-driven customer support, but if you can’t deliver a human interaction within a reasonable timeframe redirect to email.
  • Do deliver interesting webinars and send recordings to all registrants but don’t clutter your site with an unedited version of your recording. Take the time to edit and create small snippets of content that are more likely to be consumed by a visitor.
  • Do include customer experience goals and/or impact in every program plan and then measure success against those goals. You don’t want to be so zealous about driving leads that you create an utterly miserable customer experience.