Your website is great – too bad your business sucks

This is the story of a locally owned business with a fabulous website.   The website “worked” – it brought a new potential customer into the store and the staff went to work to make sure that a potential new customer  left – never to return.

Our story begins many years ago when  I purchased a small fish tank for my small children for Christmas.   My son chose as “his” fish a specimen called an iridescent shark which is not really a shark but a catfish.  This demonstrates the power of “branding” – because I’m sure my little tyke would not have been nearly as passionate about the prospect of owning an iridescent catfish.

At the time, I encouraged the kids not to name their fish because surely they wouldn’t survive long enough to justify a name.  I was wrong.  That darned fish lived for more than 7 years.   Over the years, I had to buy a 10 gallon and then a 20 gallon tank to accommodate the growing fish.  When he passed – we had to bury him in the backyard instead of flushing him down the toilet… he was that big.

Fast forward to another Christmas when I again purchased small fish tanks for my much older children.  This time the aquariums were more of a “gag” gift – and once again the joke was on me.  We originally purchased 3 fish and awoke the next morning to find a swarm of teenie, tiny fish trying to avoid the bigger fish.  We filled the additional tanks with these “bonus” fish.  A year later we purchased a 28 gallon tank to accommodate our fishy pets.  The new larger tank means purchasing more fishy friends.

This blog post isn’t about looking ahead  and acting accordingly- though it could be.  🙂  This blog post also isn’t about something becoming bigger than you ever thought it would be – and it could be as it happens often in the world of blogging.

This blog post is about being disappointed by the business I found lurking behind the effective website.

There is a locally owned pet store which is housed in a building with elaborate decorative images painted on the exterior.  I’m kind of surprised that it never caught my attention before.  See – even though I’ve driven past this particular pet store dozens — perhaps hundreds of times – the elaborate paintings on the building and the prominent signage never registered with me.  I have regularly ignored this pet store’s signage – until I became an aquarium owner.  Now, the signage declaring this pet store was voted #1 caught my attention- breaking through the cacophony of advertising messages and singing a sweet melody compelling me to come hither.  My inner chatter changes to focus upon this new discovery….

“Voted #1 you say?  Isn’t that giant panda painted on the front interesting and unique?  Gee – I need to check this place out.”

I talk about this phenomenon in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results.

I didn’t stop at the store on that trip – but I did check out the store’s website when I got home.  The website did a GREAT job of “selling” visitors on why this pet store was indeed the best in the region.   The next day, I piled my family into the car with the intention of filling our fish tank with fishy friends from the interesting and unique pet store we had just discovered.

Unfortunately, the store displayed and described on the website was very different from the real thing.  Warm and inviting?  Hardly.  Try disheveled and stinky.  Forget the fact that the tanks were streaked and dirty and that there was water standing on the floor – what truly horrified me was how the store’s three employees huddled behind the cash wrap area talking amongst themselves.  Despite spending more than 20 minutes in the store, we were never acknowledged and we left empty handed.

I pity the person who handles this pet store’s internet marketing because it’s inevitable that the business owner will complain that “the website isn’t working.”

I can attest that the website DID work – perfectly.  Bravo to the architect.

That website was the reason we hopped in the car and made a trip to their store.  Unfortunately, the store’s employees are the reason we hopped back into our car and headed over to the big chain pet store across town.

We weren’t the only people to leave that store empty handed that day though I have no idea whether the others were compelled to visit based on the signage or the website.  It doesn’t matter – because non of us received any customer service from the staff of this store.

Dear Store Owner:

Your website worked.  It motivate my family to take action – but your staff obviously wasn’t prepared for our arrival.

As a result, one of your competitors “ate your lunch” this past weekend.

Sincerely,

Just one of the many lost customers last Sunday afternoon.

Honestly, I could have forgiven the disheveled appearance of the store’s interior if a smiling, helpful clerk had offered friendly assistance.  A simple acknowledgment of our presence would have gone a long way that day.

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.  That’s why it’s important that your website makes a great first impression.  However, it’s even more important that your business lives up to the expectations set by your website.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m a big believer in researching mom and pop stores to see what others say about their service and quality. Having a great website is definitely a step in the right direction of getting me to go there. But like you I am also sometimes disappointed with what I find. Every once in a while though you find a diamond in the rough.