I’m not sure I agree with Shoemoney’s argument, but it’s interesting food for thought. I’m normally very open to the reasoning that “Amazon has trained us that this is the way it should be,” but there are so many things that require handholding that I don’t think you can apply Jeremy’s rule universally. But I may be biased because That Software Guy is a service provider.
What this question ultimately resolves to is, “is your relationship with your customers transactional?” If you’re selling commodities, then it is whether you’d like it to be or not. But if you’re not selling commodities, perhaps service can become a differentiator for your business.
One thing is for sure: service is expensive. You must have a model for charging for it, or you’ll lose your shirt.
Here’s a great post from Nametag Guy Scott Ginsburg called “35 cultural trends that (should) change the way you do business.” My favorite? Number 18, which I thought really should have been called, “Trust is a must.” Checklist for online vendors:
- SSL certificate not just for checkout, but for account creation and login?
- Contact information (esp. telephone number) all during checkout?
- Physical address at the bottom of the page?
- Following up on emails within 24 hours?
37Signals had an interesting post about phantom buyers (you know the kind; they say, “I’ll buy it if …”). I think it’s a smart strategy to pre-plan your product roadmap carefully enough that you can respond quickly to these people with your own conditional offer: IF you’ll buy it, I will commit to adding feature X in timeframe Y. Of course, the difference is that your offer actually binds you to something if they PayPal you the funds, whereas their “offer” doesn’t commit them to anything. Nevertheless, I have found that this strategy is often successful, and takes me in a direction I wanted to go anyhow, sooner or later.
There’s no substitute for hard data. MarketingSherpa found that actual abandonment rates were two to three times as high as e-commerce marketers thought they were. They offer some heuristics for getting to the bottom of the problem, but they don’t discuss my favorite remedy – order total transparency. Got discounts? Show ’em. Got a shipping charge? Show it as soon as possible. Extra charges? Don’t keep it a secret until payment time; let them know up front.
According to this article in Science Daily, discounts are perceived to be larger when the digits to the right are small. Quick: which is a better deal, A or B?
Most people pick A, even though the dollar amounts are identical and B is a greater percentage discount.