Your Digital Front Door™ and the Cost Of Lazy
There’s a great financial cost to not building a proper customer experience for online brands or B2B brands or service brands. I want to juxtapose what it was like to go live with a business before versus now, as I’ve been on both sides.
When we started our business we had to rent a property, rent an office. We had a 2,000 square foot space in Soho on Spring and Hudson, and we had a five year master lease. So launching that business cost us; there was a cost to entry. Today, with almost zero barrier to entry, I know people are just going online and going live with their business idea without necessarily building out the experience.
What happened with our office space is we ran that for years and then when I moved to Philadelphia, I also built an agency space in the Conshohocken Spring Mill office center, it was awesome, but we met with all our clients digitally online. Our client teams tend to be remote so we didn’t need a space anymore. Moving online, that becomes the building, that becomes the storefront, that becomes the office, the entry and the experience of the brand.
We work with a brand right now called the Lehighton Outdoor Center. For Jerry McAward who is the founder and the president of that business, he held that vision for years and he actually embarked on putting a deposit down on land four years ago, and then it took a lot of time. They had to build a building so he had to jump through all the hoops that go into building a building in order to bring that brand to life, and he brought two other companies into that facility. So in the Lehighton Outdoor Center is the Jim Thorpe River Adventures and the Northeast PA Kayak School, so there’s three brands under one roof.
When we looked at the customer experience we helped to work on what is the guest experience end to end. Where’s the front door, where’s the signage, where are the bathrooms, where do they sign up for the raft trips, where do they sign up for their kayak lesson? There’s retail and there’s a cafe, right? That building has a mortgage and there is lights, and zoning, and safety, and insurance. The cost of entry is very, very expensive.
Now, even if you don’t have a space, I want to remind you that you still need to examine your customer experience. Your digital experience, the digital front door is your website. I don’t say this because we want to build your website. [Yes, we build websites for brands that we’re launching or we redesign the brand experience that entails the experience of the website because the website needs to do all of these things]. What we’re seeing with many small business owners is a sense of lax and laziness, if you will, and non strategy around how they approach this space. Let’s say you have a website and you did it yourself. Just because you can build a website in WordPress “for free” yourself doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you should only if you’re an expert in brand messaging, brand voice, emotional connection so that you can move your guests or your audience through the gates of connection in order to want to do business with you.
You need to look at where your expertise is, and if you’re a service provider, you’re a financial planner or you’re offering a B2B services and your value is there, then don’t be designing your own website because the cost of doing so is really, really expensive to the business. Let me give you some examples.
Say someone refers you: “Oh, I worked with this financial planner Bill Smith and they’re awesome, go check them out. Their company name is financialplanning.com.” Your customer, or your potential customer, is going to vet you online. Now, of course this referral is invaluable, that’s what we want, to have a happy customer refer us. Yet, what happens is when they get to your place of business, they get to your digital front door™, your office and they poke around, and they think “This doesn’t seem professional enough. I want a really proven, seasoned financial planner. I really want to feel a sense of safety when planning for retirement” or whatever your customer looking is for. If that’s not there and that doesn’t satisfy and quench their need, their emotional need is not satisfied, they will make a decision, a No.
There’s neuroscience involved in that, but essentially the information goes in that we make a judgment call, yay, nay. We’re either adding or detracting, adding and detracting at all times about our value, so meaning our computer brains are making those decisions at all times. If you decide to cut corners, or do your website yourself, or not plan the website experience, the CX and not map out for your own customer. What is the front door? What happens when I get a referral? What happens when they come in for the first time? What takes place, what did they feel about it, and what did they do next?
If you didn’t architect that, then I would like to suggest that you do because the cost is they come in, they make a judgment and they leave. You may be the best financial planner in your state or even in your country, but there’s no way that customer is going to know, you didn’t have the opportunity to have that sales conversation; you didn’t have the opportunity to close the business.
Money is being left on the table. People are turning away. It’s like when you go to a dry cleaner and there’s a sign that the business is closed, we’ve gone fishing. People pull up, they want to drop off their clothes, and you’re closed. Or, it looks like a dirty organization, cleanliness is not there, they’re going to turn around and leave and take their business somewhere else.
That’s happening to you if you haven’t architected or planned out your end-to-end experience. Just because you can do your website, don’t, and you don’t have to bring it here, but have somebody who knows what they’re doing help you with that.
Another scenario we see is brands with physical offices or stores, and they don’t want to invest in their digital presence, or they don’t want to build any kind of content marketing, or any kind of social brand voice personality, or they just dial that down.
There’s some old school thinking about, “Well, you know, I have so much to think about, and the website I’m just gonna, you know, spend a thousand bucks”. That is costing you because all the research that your audience is doing starts in digital, starts online, maybe in Instagram, or starts on Facebook. In our case, we get most of our business from Facebook. People ask other small business owners for recommendations for an expert in branding. We often hear, “we want to grow our company, or, we want to consolidate our several brands into one, or, we want to expand, we want to build a platform”.
Their Vetting Journey; It starts on Facebook. Then they’re going to look at our online presence, look at our properties, look at our website, make a decision about whether or not we seem at all like a fit, and then they’re going to pick up the phone, or in our case, no one ever calls us ever. They email us or they ping us on Facebook Messenger. I want to make sure that you aren’t dialing it down or being lazy. Let’s say you were an orthodontist or a service provider and you decide to have your receptionist do that in their spare time again. Again? No.
Kerri Konik is a seasoned brand strategist and leading expert in igniting emotional connection and optimizing customer experience to drive business growth. She is a consultant, advisor and speaker on catalyzing the emotional bonds between customers, brands, and leaders to increase value, progress, and accelerate the speed of change, growth and desired impact. An entrepreneur at heart, Kerri has launched five businesses, and is the CEO of InspireFire, a women-owned brand strategy and marketing consultancy based in Philadelphia.