The true cost of a neglected website

Regular readers of this blog may recall the story I told some time back about the bar that displayed a long since deleted menu, nearly landing me in hot water with the friendly attendants of a local booze bus due to a larger than anticipated blood-alcohol reading.

Of course as many pointed out, it had nothing to do with the dated website but my inability to adjust my alcohol consumption on the night.

Still, the point remained. The bar in question falsely advertised and I had every right to be annoyed because it led me to believe it would cater for my dietary requirements – i.e. something substantial to eat whilst I enjoyed the entertainment on offer.

These days this is something consumers and businesses do every day: expect that the business behind the website actually does what the website says they do.

Particularly when the content management systems that allow business operators to easily edit information on their websites are so affordable.

Twice bitten, once shy

Unfortunately, a similar thing has happened once again.

This time I was making a booking for a family occasion with a venue we have patronised several times before.

Because I needed to do this prior to their opening hours, I went to their website and completed the email form it invited me to complete.

The good news is that they responded about my booking the same day.

The not so good news was that it told me they were closed for renovations!

Selective use of digital

So on the one hand they have used the online world effectively to respond to my booking request, but on the other they could have prevented the entire dialogue by simply stating that they were closed for said renos fairly prominently on the website.

In other words, they understand the importance of responding to email booking requests promptly, but don’t understand the importance of using the public face of their business, their website, for information other than taking booking requests.

Now two days later we are still without a suitable venue as the weekend and the occasion rapidly approaches, so again, their poor website upkeep has created inconvenience for a regular customer and his family – and that doesn’t encourage me to return even when the renos are complete.

Your website IS your business

It also suggests a business operator who is out of touch with how consumers research, order and buy in an increasingly digital age.

The suitably switched on business operator would understand that their website – and to a degree their Facebook page, is the very first place they would go to, to let the world know of a significant change to their business.

They would also understand that by not doing so, they are inconveniencing and potentially alienating the very people they need to patronise their business.

What’s wrong with the phone?

Many will no doubt argue that I, once again, shouldn’t rely on websites when we know that business operators – particularly smaller ones, aren’t particularly good at keeping them up to date.

That’s not an unreasonable call. But when it comes to choosing between a business that does look after my requirements online versus one that doesn’t, you know which one will get my business.

And given the number of people who now rely on websites for up to date information, I am certainly not alone.

At the end of the day it’s a fundamental customer service and one that marketers would in this case call a failed ‘moment of truth’.

Would your business pass the same test?

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.


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