When a potential customer takes the trouble to visit your office you could assume they are interested in using your products or services, but have a few questions to ask you before they make a final decision.
All of your marketing efforts have paid off and the sales team are waiting in anticipation – answer a few questions and the sale could be in the bag. They dust down their best suits, tidy the office, research what the prospect may be interested in and order in some nice sandwiches – leaving no stone unturned to impress.
But what if this wasn’t the case? Imagine a potential customer took the trouble to visit your office, but your doorbell was broken. They eventually stumble across a backdoor, but are greeted with a messy environment and confusion over who can help them. Leaving with more questions about the organization than the answers they were seeking, they decide to look elsewhere and pay a visit to your competitors across the street.
Although the second scenario seems unthinkable it is exactly what many organizations unwittingly offer their visitors online.
When a user visits your site, a lot of hard work has already happened behind the scenes to convince them to spend time with you. Your website is your shop window and you have invited them in for a browse, but what happens when they ask you a question – are you welcoming, do you listen and more importantly do you have the answers they are looking for?
Consumers are not only getting savvier, but less patient, and it is now widely thought that we need to consume a minimum of 10 pieces of content before we pick up a phone or enter any kind of sales process. If we can’t find the answers we are looking for in our early interactions, it is unlikely we will persevere with a brand and far more likely that we will simply switch to a competitor.
So how can you ‘listen to your customers’ if they aren’t talking to you yet? Well the truth is they are, but just not in the usual places. Every time they search on your site for something they can’t find, they are asking you a question. Every time they click on a link in the search results, before searching again, they are giving you valuable feedback.
It is these users who are the most engaged, most interested and most likely to convert. Out of all of the visitors to your website, they are the furthest down the sales funnel, so ensuring that you are capable of listening and answering the questions they ask is imperative.
The key to doing so is in sophisticated analytics, allowing you to review the questions your visitors have been asking your website search function. It will be helpful to find out what queries are being asked and answered, but even more insightful to find the queries your visitors ask which return no results or irrelevant content. These are the dead ends they are hitting and with every dead end comes a reason for your user to leave the process.
From these analytics you have the opportunity to learn what is important to your users and importantly the gaps you need to fill with answers. It is a rare chance to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and understand exactly what matters to them - no more speculation about what your customers want, they are using your search function to tell you.
For every piece of content you create in answer to a question you hadn’t known existed, or every search you re-direct to more relevant content, you are not only improving your user experience, but also helping earn your visitors trust and loyalty in their journey to conversion.
Like anything, the more you listen, the more you learn and the better you can be. You wouldn’t ignore a prospect standing in your shop, so why would you ignore them when they visit you online?