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Does your website take a break?

How can I help you?This week I stayed in a budget hotel with my family during the school holiday. On arrival at the hotel the reception desk was unattended. Standing in front of the desk, wearing the uniform of the hotel, was a lady who appeared to be waiting for someone. This lady stood there for five minutes, not acknowledging our presence in any way and we assumed she was perhaps just comfortable with the fact that the receptionist had stepped out for a moment and we would be served imminently.

As another family arrived to check in, this uniformed member of staff disappeared up the corridor. We were still unattended so we pressed the bell for attention. About two minutes later, the same uniformed lady arrived and went behind the reception desk. Her first words to us were, “Sorry about that.” As though she had been invisible before and it was someone else’s fault that we had been left wondering if the hotel had any staff.

I suppose the woman was waiting for her shift to start, which may seem acceptable to her but it isn’t acceptable to a customer. When you are in uniform, whether you are on a break or not, you are expected to provide customer service. You can’t just say, “I’m on a break.”

This got me thinking about the customer service expectation of a company website. I wonder how many corporate sites leave customers hanging about in the reception area, waiting to be served. Without the benefit of a human standing at the front desk to answer questions, a website has to second guess a visitor’s requirements. There are three main reasons people visit your website. The challenge is to cater to all possible needs of customers. If you don’t, your website may just seem like it is taking an idle break while it ignores the customers waiting to be served.

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