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4. "Use What I Give You"

If you ask customers for information, they expect you to use it in some way. This applies to information that returns a response then and there, as well as later on.

If customers are using functionality, such as a calculator, or a drop-down menu, to create outcomes from different scenarios or selections, they expect the information they enter to directly affect the outcome. Customers get frustrated when they enter information and it doesn't change the outcome.

Similarly, if customers give you information about themselves during their Web-site experience, and then you don't use it for anything useful to them, they wonder why you needed it in the first place.

In addition, customers expect Web sites to remember things so they don't have to tell you the same thing over and over. This is particularly true when customers transact-if they seek to do a number of transactions sequentially, and they give you personal information the first time, they expect you to remember it, to save them from rekeying it each time.


Go-nowhere selection

A customer wants to find out the cost of a phone call to, say, part of the United States. They find a calculator that allows them to enter where they're calling, and when, to find out the cost of the call. The calculator returns the cost of the call, and also presents a drop-down list from which the customer can select the time at various places called. The customer would have to select the exact place they are calling from the drop-down list to find out the time there. The customer is confused as to why the tool couldn't tell them the time at the place they were calling at the same time as telling them the cost of the call-they had already provided information on where they were calling.

Insufficient memory

A customer wants to buy a mobile phone. They go through some scenarios on the Web site to work out what they need. The Web site recommends a particular type of mobile phone and the customer decides to get it. The customer clicks through to purchase the product but finds that the form needs some information identical to what they've already entered.

OK so maybe they can live with that. They then fill out the form to purchase the product. They then realize that they also need to sign up for the call plan that goes along with the mobile phone. Having ordered the mobile phone, they go on to sign up for the call plan they want. They get a form to sign up and discover that a lot of the information they just filled in on the previous mobile phone form hasn't been captured in this form either, and they have to rekey it.

By this time the customer is getting a little frustrated and is thinking, "This could have been easier." The customer submits the form to sign up for the call plan but they get an error message telling them that they haven't filled the form in correctly. They go back to fix the form but find that some of the information they filled in the last time has disappeared. Now the customer is really annoyed. If the error messages or the forms aren't very helpful as well, this customer could end up going back and forth a number of times to rekey, rekey, and rekey.

Chances are that this will be the last time they try and order something on that Web site.

The sequence the customer goes through is shown in Figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2 Insufficient memory.

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