According to Wikipedia, "delight means happiness and can refer to someone or something that brings such a state."
Do you delight your customers?
If you are not delighting your customers, you should start now. Making your clients happy results in delighting your bottom line with more sales leads and new customers. One economical way to bring happiness to your customers is to improve the online experience. I like to call it "creating an exceptional web experience."
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Many businesses have done at least one thing to modernize the company website or online marketing portal in order to better delight. Forward-thinking companies are linking site information to Facebook and Twitter, incorporating industry expert blogs, featuring a video welcome from the CEO on the homepage, and allowing customers to pay bills and make appointments online.
For example, California-based medical services provider Kaiser Permanente made private billing and appointment information available online. In doing this, Kaiser made the whole medical care practice significantly more efficient, creating a superior experience for both the practitioner and the patient. One noteworthy benefit was a decrease in the number of missed appointments, saving the company a load of money.
I predict that in 2011 most businesses will start running the whole gamut of modern online web marketing activities by utilizing new tools and services made available by a variety of companies worldwide.
Essentially, there are five things that companies will start doing on their websites to create an exceptional web experience for clients, citizens (in the case of government agencies), and, most importantly, prospects.
There can be no more one-offs in this arena. A company can no longer just put the CEO video on the front page of a site with a bunch of links to static information like the company address and the latest news releases and expect to be done. Companies must go the distance and do it all, or lose business to the competitor that puts forth the effort to create an exceptional website.
Here are the five things I predict all successful businesses will do in 2011 to make websites sing, increase online sales leads, and make clients feel good about doing business with the company:
Take personal to a whole new level
Welcome the customer and make it personal by offering products and services so specialized that they can't say "no." One way to personalize is based on customer attitude, tastes, opinions, preferences, and desires. Use analytics tools to better understand a customer's attitude and feed that into the personalization. Personalization can go deeper by combining attitude information with the client's behavior, location, and profile.
Be more measurable
What's working? What's not working? Analytics, social analytics, software, and services are readily available now. Come up to speed and use these tools.
Embrace rich media
If your marketing team is not discussing ways to add more rich media to your website, I recommend it start now. According to the information technology encyclopedia website WhatIsThis.com, rich media is a web page ad that uses advanced technology -- such as streaming video and downloaded programs -- that interact instantly with the user. For example, ads may change when the user's mouse passes over the page. A Hollywood film that includes a streaming video sample of a scene from the movie is a perfect example of how rich media can enhance advertising. Can other businesses like banks and hospitals use videos like this? You bet!
Talk back 24/7
Instant answers -- such as how much you owe on your medical bill -- are just a password and a click away. One of our clients reported that 30 percent of their customers found more satisfaction in doing these types of account activities online instead of, for example, calling a telephone service representative who may not be immediately available, or who may not be knowledgeable about a certain subject. Social networking capabilities incorporated into your website improve customer loyalty and help to resolve problems by enabling customers to share ideas and opinions that, ultimately, drive higher value customer interactions via lower cost channels.
Make it go
If you can't check out all the sections of your website with a smartphone or an iPad then forget about gaining and retaining new customers. Today's patients, consumers, and citizens need to do it all on the road. More than ever, people are relying on mobile devices to run their lives. By 2011, industry watchers predict 1 trillion internet-connected devices and more than 2 billion people online. The same experts predict that there will be 1.19 billion mobile workers by 2013. Studies by ABI Research indicate that online banking is expected to double. Mobile commerce is going to triple by 2015 and is expected to reach $119 billion dollars. By the same year, ABI Research predicts 20 times more mobile data and 40 times more mobile transactions. The lesson is clear: Get mobile or get out of business.
According to Forrester, in today's online and mobile consumer era, organizations that deploy sites with superior user experience can achieve as much as a 400 percent increase in conversion of web visitors to sales leads. Companies that delight their constituents reap the rewards.
Bharti Airtel is the largest cellular service provider company in India. The company handled hyper-growth like clockwork, from 6 million subscribers in 2004 to 121 million subscribers today. Bharti Aritel achieved this success by offering new products, services, and support all on the web -- including to mobile subscribers.
The Miami-Dade county clerk of the courts office in Florida knows how to massively improve the web experience. Through online portal changes, the Miami-Dade county clerk of the courts saved $1 million per year in employee costs, managed a 30 percent increase in cases with a 15 percent decrease in staff, saved more than 50 percent in overtime costs (reduced from $400,000 to less than $200,000), and increased traffic fee collection by 60 percent. In addition, the clerk's office reclaimed 3,500 square feet of storage space.
Don't just do business online in 2011; delight your customers with exceptional online service. Experience true business efficiency and success as your customers become happier and your client base increases.
Larry Bowden is the vice president of portals and web experience IBM.
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