Think like your customer

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Setting up internet banking for an account that’s been open for 18 months proved rather more difficult for my partner, Graham, than he imagined.

I won’t go into everything that went wrong; I want to highlight one thing in particular to show how important it is to be clear and put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. Nowhere is that more important than in our copy.

After several weeks and far too many phone calls, Graham finally got his card and PIN number for the account. Then he found out he needed a card-reader before he could use internet banking fully. He was told he could only order the reader through the bank’s website.

So, to the site he went and sure enough there was a page all about the card reader. He read how useful it would be, how it would add another layer of security to protect his account, how easy it was to use… but nowhere did it say how to order one.

After wasting yet more time on this mission, a phone call and an email later, he finally got a response together with instructions for how to order his card-reader.

“Go to the page about the card-reader on our website”. Yes, yes, been there.
“Select, ‘change settings menu…’” Ah, yes of course. Obvious really.

Now, customers can’t fully use online banking facilities without the card-reader, so why make it this difficult to order one? Instead of it being squirreled away, why on earth isn’t there a ‘Click here to order your card-reader’ option big and bold on the page?

Seriously, who but the person who built that page would know you have to select ‘change settings menu’?

He had a similar problem with domain site, 123-reg. After spending an entire Sunday afternoon trying to use the ‘one-click install’ for WordPress, he called customer support the next day.

“Ah yes, sir. You just need to click on the word ‘apps’, then navigate to the particular program you’re interested in.” Well of course you do!

My point is, as businesses, we need to take the same journey our customers will take and make it easy for them.

It’s exactly the same with copy. If you have a message to get across, or if you want the reader to do something, make it clear. Cut the waffle and get to the point – in the first paragraph if you can.

Don’t start by telling your reader what they already know: tell them something they don’t know. You can qualify it later with examples if you want to.

If you don’t, at best your communication will be ineffectual. But at worst, you run the risk of annoying and alienating people.

Don’t make marketing promises you can’t keep | Fifa Fo Fum, make sure your words don’t come undone

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

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Click here to find out a bit more about me.

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