Make Life Easy

I want to tell you a story.

A few days ago I had dinner with a friend at a restaurant in downtown Toronto. We had stellar service from the waiter at the restaurant and my friend, who picked up the check (thanks!) left a hefty tip for him.

The waiter then pointed out a website that we could go to and at which we could leave feedback in order to obtain a free appetizer next time we went to the restaurant. My friend spotted a telephone number option on the receipt, too, and pulled-out his blackberry on the spot to leave some glowing feedback about the server.

He never left that feedback.

Why?

The automated service he connected-to made it infuriating to leave feedback. Not only did it warn him it would take several minutes to complete the survey, but it made him key-in details that could easily have been automated.

The lesson? Make it easy for people to reach you.

Why couldn’t the service automatically record the date? Why couldn’t the check have a code printed on it to identify the restaurant?  They made it unnecessarily hard to get feedback, so in the end they didn’t receive any.

The irony? If it had been a simple paper form with name, email address and comment box, we would probably have completed it on the spot. The complexity killed the opportunity to get our contact details into their database. What’s more, they marred an excellent meal with an unsatisfying final interaction with their restaurant.

The same applies to websites. Don’t make me create an account to leave a comment on your blog, because I won’t (sorry, Jennifer – you rock but it’s not happening while ZDNet has that form).  

Likewise, I’m tired of constantly filling-out profile forms for new sites, which is why Facebook Connect interests me.

Make life easy, and people will respond. Make it difficult and they’ll take their time (and perhaps their money) elsewhere.

  • you’re so right. what’s even sadder is that when you do complete a profile so many websites turn around and use your info to send SPAM, even if you don’t check off the newsletter box. this month’s PROFIT magazine has a great story about the increasing power of customers. Basically if you turn them off once, they’re gone forever.

  • Dave,

    I totally agree, long forms are so frustrating. I love that a lot of sites are popping up that have 3 forms, login id, password, email, register, and bam you’re done.

    The facebook registration form is perfect.

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  • Good point. If people spend a little more time on seeing things from the user’s perspective it would ease the process and increase customer satisfaction. Here’s a similar frustrating encounter my colleague had filling out a webform: http://jameane.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/the-worst-webform-ever/

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  • This is exactly why I prefer to and am more likely to comment on blogs running on Wordpress rather than Blogger blogs, which generally involve a popup and captcha. However, as someone who generally does not use her last name publicly online, I am still wary about Facebook Connect as the first time I connected to a site, my last name populated automatically. For me, trusting FBC will still take some time. ClaimID allowed me to select a username – a huge plus for me.

  • I think if more companies would actually take the time to test their response/feedback methods from a customers perspective they’d find that they do more to frustrate people rather than giving them a quick and easy method for providing positive or negative feedback.

  • Your comments are right no the money. This perpetuates the thinking that only people that REALLY have something to complain about will take the time to comment. Even if you do provide incentives–such as a coupon or cash back–it is inexcusable not to make the experience as easy as possible for the user.

    More to the point, so may times it seems as if the site is obviously collecting data points they will never really use.

  • i love the blog

  • Great looking web site, also in web browser Amaya pictured your website correctly. That is not a average situation, nice work!