house_graffitiEverybody lies. Gregory House, M.D. (the fake doctor payed by Hugh Laurie)

The biggest liars are sometimes your customers. That reality can be devastating to any business that doesn’t accept this truth. But if you know these lies and how to get the truth, it’s amazing power.

Lie #1: Gee, Your Website Looks Terrific!

Have you ever asked a customer what they think of your website, and in an instant they transform into your grandma? They gush that it’s the prettiest website they’ve ever seen. We all love to hear these glowing, solicited reviews, but I’ve heard that said about both truly lovely websites and websites so visually overwhelming (click at your peril) that my eyes nearly bled while ear scorching audio blasted through my speakers.  I don’t trust any answer to that question, especially in a face to face situation. Face to face, most people want you to like them, so they say what you want to hear, often whether it’s true or not.

I don’t believe it, don’t you believe it, either.

How to get the truth

Yes, it is possible to get a reliable answer to this question! Here’s how:

  • Survey a group of customers online while they’re using your website
  • Ask about visual appeal while you’re asking about other key factors, like ease of use, speed, accuracy, openness, among others.
  • Ask in positive and negative structures (Visually appealing / unattractive and unappealing)

This is what we do while designing a blueprint for our clients.

Lie #2: I Love All the Great “Stuff” On Your Website

Statistically, customers don’t love “all” the stuff (or information). They love about 10% of the information on the average website, and the rest they hate because it’s getting in the way of the 10%.

How to get the truth

  • Compile a list of potential top tasks (information is a task!) from sources like your current offerings, competitor offerings, market research and analytic data
  • Survey your customers to find the top 10 tasks (a minimum of 100 customers is best)

We find out our client’s customers’ top tasks during the discovery phase of our process.

Lie #3: Silence

Tiniest Latin lesson ever: “Qui tacet consentire” means “To be silent is to consent”. I first heard that from Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry, but it was first quoted by the venerable Thomas More. Whomever you heard it from first (including me), it’s true, but the consent itself is a lie.

The lie of silence is that you can assume anything from it, including agreement with your current opinion of your website – that it’s good, great, awful, or indifferent. Of course, eventually silence might lead to no business, interaction, or feedback, so that might clue you in that something is wrong. To identify what’s wrong, and fix it, you need to hear more than silence.

How to get the truth

Again, similar to Lie #1, you need to ask questions.

  • If you’re not getting traffic to your website, the first person you need to ask is yourself. What are you doing to drive qualified traffic to your website? Have you invested in search engine optimization, local search optimization, and other paths of promotion?
  • If the traffic isn’t converting, ask them why with a customer satisfaction survey. Did they find what they came for? What is their impression of the website in the areas of content (current, accurate, complete, understandable), social (contact, participation, openness, reviews), and information (search, layout, appeal, speed)?

These answers get you the truth you need to get revenue generating, goal achieving results.

What lies have you caught your customers telling you?