Anderson, Indiana

Emmett Dulaney: Websites need to focus on customer

Tue, 2012-05-15 08:34 -- univcomm
May 15, 2012
It is a fair thing to say that my family watches a decent amount of television. So much so, in fact, that it seemed to me as if the perfect Mothers’ Day gift might be adding HBO to the channels we already receive through our cable provider. Envisioning it as a simple procedure, I went to the cable provider’s website, logged in and brought up my account — a process that took less than one minute. I then spent over 10 minutes trying to figure out how to just add one premium channel to the current selection without agreeing to a Double-Decker/Triple-Player/Quarter-Pounder-with-Cheese bundle that contained items I had no desire for. When I could not find it easily, I used the search feature at the top of the website page and the very first entry that it returned looked to be exactly what I was trying to do. I clicked on that link, and it took me to a landing page that required me to log in all over again; effectively logging me out of the session I had been working in for what now seemed twice as long as it really had been. Since I seemed to be on the right track this time, I went ahead and gave my account information once more and logged in. Up came a pop-up telling me that the deal I was seeking was no longer available in this area. Deal I was seeking? I was seeking the pleasure of paying them more money each and every month and they were making it next to impossible for me to do so. I could go in with more detail, but by now you can probably guess who got perennials for Mothers’ Day. All too often, websites get tossed online when the designers and developers are happy with them, and not when they are optimized for the customer. The illustration involving the cable company is but one example. In their mind, I have little doubt, they believe that they have streamlined the process by offering a limited number of choices that combine offerings that most people covet. In my mind, I would rather purchase what they offer ala carte and only get those items that I am interested in today. If I want something else tomorrow, I would rather come back for it then than have it foisted upon me before I sought it out. As the example also illustrates, there is still a great deal of room for improvement with search technology — particularly that search which is limited to a single site. If customers cannot find what they are looking for, you can only expect them to be patient for so long before they give up and go elsewhere. The results returned need to be relevant — and recent — in order for them to have meaning. As for the HBO saga ... there is always an anniversary somewhere down the way when it may be worth trying again. As for now, we seem to be stuck with that endlessly looping sad music on Lifetime Network. Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology. The Falls School of Business is one of Anderson University’s largest academic departments offering eight undergraduate majors as well as MBA and DBA programs. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is a member of the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA). Columns from Anderson University’s Falls School of Business are published Tuesdays in The Herald Bulletin. Tuesday’s columnist is Emmett Dulaney, who teaches marketing and entrepreneurship.