I recently joined the 40,093,000 people, give or take, who move within America each year. Like many, I moved a short distance, only 10 miles or so, from the edge of one county up into the next one. Not that this makes the slightest bit of difference in the amount of mind-numbing stuff one needs to pack, wrap, shuttle, or ideally, get rid of between the old house and the new.
What I did think would be different, since I haven’t moved in more than a decade, would be the state of my digital experience. Given all the work I do with brands and with CIOs to help foster digital transformation (and to foster best practices-based conversation about it), I was anticipating seamless, even delightful, digital experiences for moving-related services and supplies.
Clearly, though, digital transformation has barely glanced off of this industry. Here are a few practices I gathered from companies that appear to be most interested in distancing customers, confusing and frustrating them, and ensuring that they will rarely if ever return when they next sign a new lease or mortgage.
- 1. Hit the visitor with a Live Chat box before the site has even loaded.
This practice reminds me of wayfinding signage that repeats the icon’s message in type below it (turn right symbol + turn right). If your digital experience is so poor that a hard sell is required within seconds, you might want to rethink why. No one in this space is as obnoxious as Hoover’s, but some are close.
- 2. Charge a fee to talk to a live person, even to place an order.
There is something arrogant in the notion that your site must be so thoroughly vetted and the UI so superior that even talking to a human will cost you $4 or more. This is an area where sites for automated pickup fare particularly poorly, the implied message being, “If you start in the online channel, you’re darn well staying in the online channel.”
You might expect a supplementary charge if you are buying an airline ticket online, something most of us have done, but booking trash removal at your old house before the buyers arrive and melt down to their broker is not a garden variety task. Especially when the site repeatedly tells you that pickup is impossible at your home since it is 134 miles west of where it actually is.
- 3. Ensure that your discount codes don’t work.
Discovering that an essential item has gone astray during a move and may be hiding in any one of dozens of boxes often requires ordering products between pack-up and unpacking. As nice as it was to be able click on am email offering a 20% discount on exactly one of these products, it was doubly galling to serve up an error message that the code the vendor offered was invalid, even after I’d signed into my account. Even if I’ve had an account for years – which means you do not get to Pass Go for warning me that I need to be a member first for the code to work.
- 4. Make it almost impossible to change your order.
If you’re moving, you may make the miraculous discovery that you have more or less stuff than you anticipated. Either way, changing your order should be a top priority piece of navigation, and should not require minutes of hunting around or cost you $4 (see Practice #2).
- 5. Generate automated emails to encourage me to buy, rather than doing real-time diagnostics to determine why I might be stuck.
Think about it, online vendor: if I have been a customer for years, it’s unlikely that I abandoned my shopping cart out of mover’s ADD. Why wouldn’t you reach out, or even spend $4 to call me, rather than assuming that I’ve forgotten something? Oh, and while you’re at it, ensure that any email you send to your customer cannot be answered by hitting Reply. Make them hunt down a link or send them an error message to keep them at bay. That’s all part of the fun of a sub-optimized digital experience in 2016.
After moving, many people make hyperbolic claims that “the next time I’m leaving this house is in a box,” et cetera. Given my week of moving and the digital experiences that rarely supported my efforts, I’m a bit surprised that more people don’t just stay put.