4 minutes reading time (854 words)

When a poor visitor experience on your website costs your business money


I recently placed an order for some made to measure curtains with a well known high street and online retailer. I ordered fabric samples, measured up and placed my order. There was a long lead time ... over 2 months. I was very excited when the day finally arrived and the box was handed over.

I'll pause here for a moment to explain the reason for this blog post. I want to demonstrate the importance of communicating accurately with your customers via your website as well as making sure that detailed information is presented in a visually accessible way.

Make it clear, crystal clear, what information you need from your website's visitors in order to fulfil their expectations.

So ... back to the curtain story. The courier handed me the box. It felt a little light and I was slightly concerned. Something felt not quite right. I opened the box and drooled over the beautiful fabric and the pinch pleats. I'd been wanting these curtains since I moved in ... over ten years ago. I was allowed to be excited.

I held up one of the curtains. It was nowhere near wide enough. In fact it was about half the width it needed to be. In complete panic (even with the 30% discount these were a big investment for me) I went back to the email confirmation and my tape measure. The curtain width I'd ordered was correct the curtain I'd received was not! 

From the title of this blog post you've probably already worked out that someone made a mistake and in the retailers eyes that was me. In my defence this is the form that I completed when I placed my order.

I have ordered and purchased many pairs of curtains, in fact I even made one pair myself. One was longer than the other but that's another story and why I ordered them from someone who is better at at making curtains than me. So using a tape measure was not the issue here.


Now the important bit about requesting information via your website

Notice that the website visitor is asked to 'Enter your Curtain'. I wasn't absolutely sure, but as I was ordering a pair of curtains I interpreted this as meaning I should enter the width of each individual curtain that made up the pair. But, I hear you cry, there is a link and more information 'How do I measure curtains'. I did open this and was overwhelmed by a PDF that gave me all kinds of advice about how much longer the curtain pole should be than the width of the window and what to do for a bay window. I knew what I wanted ... a replacement pair of curtains. So I measured one of the old ones and typed in the width required for each curtain.

As you already know this was not what I received.

So how was this dilemma resolved?

I phoned customer service and had my order details confirmed. Even the lady I spoke to, who was very polite and very helpful, seemed rather confused as to how I ended up with curtains half the width required. To avoid a very long blog post, I'll jump to the end of the story. The situation was resolved and I was able to return my curtains and receive a 90% refund even though it did transpire that I should have ordered the full width of two curtains together and I was actually in the wrong.

So ... the point of this story.  I had ordered incorrectly and it stated very clearly elsewhere on the website that refunds are not available for any custom made curtains. However, I was still able to obtain a refund as even the customer service team agreed that the information on the website itself had not made it clear as to what details were actually required. 

Two very important points to remember when working on your website content and forms:

  • Make it absolutely clear to your customers what information you need. There should be no grey areas.
  • When providing detailed information, present it in such a way that it is easy for the visitor to find what they need. Don't overwhelm with too much information that is not relevant so that the important detail gets missed. If you need to provide a lot of detail make sure you use headings and bullet points so the visitor can easily find what is relevant to them.

This retailer has had to offer me a substantial refund and now has a pair of curtains with very odd dimensions to sell at one of their outlet stores. It turned out to be a fairly costly customer service exercise.

Despite this I have now ordered another pair of curtains from the same retailer, the correct size ... but they won't be here until August! 

It's easy to forget that you know exactly how your business process works and you know exactly what you mean. It's not always clear to your website visitor. If you would like a review of your website or are thinking of an upgrade please give me a call on 01494 537612.

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Monday, 15 July 2024

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