Digital Blinders for Customers

Posted in Web Development on May 2017

“How can we create more revenue?” is a question all companies ask. It’s a common query that is often times unanswerable or, at the very least, difficult to answer. The ever-consuming search for increased revenue, albeit creating new products, updating website redesign, or lead generation, is ever-changing. But let’s say you have too many options to offer customers—a situation I encountered with a marketing director at a popular guitar company. Say, you are Gibson or Fender. Those companies have a plethora of options. Acoustic, electric, price, color, model, etc. You’ll find that most companies will create a “compare” option, so you can evaluate the differences between products. That’s fine, but sometimes a user needs a bit more assistance. There are several solutions that can be tried, but I’ve grown towards an idea called digital blinders. I have no idea if this term is coined already, but it’s a phrase I use when dealing with these types of situations. Essentially, it’s leading the customer in the “right” direction.

Obviously not all cases are exactly the same, so tailoring your approach might vary. Once again, the idea came about talking with a director who needed help when there’s just too many options for customers. Analytics showed that users stay on a particular webpage for about 5 minutes, then leave. Customers were leaving for different reasons, but mainly because there were too many choices. The example below shows a simplistic question and answer tool. I’ve set it to appear within 2 seconds, strictly just as an example. A real world scenario would need to be much longer—probably 5 minutes or more. Analytics and A/B testing will help figure out the right amount of time.

I’ve chosen a simple branching question and answer—similar to what I did in the Creating a Text-Based Adventure and Quiz Game in Python post. I’d be hesitant to ask several questions because most people are already paranoid that their information will be used for spam or sold. Also, no one wants to answer a lot questions, or they’ll leave.

If the question and answer is created as a popup, many people might be opposed, and rightfully so, but this can be easily transitioned into a section within a website. The reason for this particular implementation is to give users enough time to browse before intervening. You’ll find “contact us” and “chat” elements on websites to assist customers. However, if you’re unable to sustain staff to answer and sift through potential customer leads, then having an automatic question and answer tool is appropriate. Albeit a developer’s time and pay, they aren’t added cost.

The drop down style leaves little to be desired, as select styles aren’t completely designerable. However, there are a plethora of ways one can implement—this being just one example. This JavaScript example doesn’t hide the questions and answers completely. Most people won’t know or care, but inspecting the webpage can reveal that information. These questions and answers shouldn’t be secretive, so if someone is able to inspect, it’s not a big deal. If, for whatever reason, you need your questions and answers to be secretive, you could use a PHP solution. But keep in mind, these questions should be innocuous and aid the customer, so being secretive isn’t necessary.

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