You get the website you deserve. Your website instantly tells your customer about your brand and culture.
Are you an organization that is genuinely customer centric and likes to serve? If you are then your website will be focused on allowing your customers to complete their tasks as quickly and easily as possible. Even if your organization is complex, your website will be simple, because you will work hard to hide your internal complexity.
Are you an organization that thrives on control and hierarchy? Then your website will be all tell and sell. It will be all about telling customers what you want them to hear, about selling them what you want to sell them. It will be about messaging, communications, PR and marketing.
Is your organization overflowing with vanity and ego? Then your website will be full of pictures of managers shaking hands. It will be fully of glossy images of attractive actors pretending to be happy customers. It will be full of meaningless jargon and you will constantly be telling your customers how much you care about them.
The ironic thing is that if you are an ego-driven organization, the message you’re actually communicating on your website is the exact opposite of what is good for the ego. Your customers think you’re all about marketing and PR. They think you’re vain and arrogant. They think you’re old school, outdated. But worst of all, they think you’re useless, because you’re hiding the useful stuff behind a wall of propaganda gunk.
Recently, I had a communicator explain to me that what he wanted to do was tell customers how good the organization was, how customer centric it was, how committed to its customers it was. In his mind, if he told the story well, the customer would believe it because it was a great story, not because it was actually true or not.
This thinking comes from the North Korean School of Communication. It should have been shut down years ago. Customers don’t trust organizations for a reason. For years they have been lied to and manipulated.
Let me give you a perfect example of old school communication thinking and why it has so undermined trust.
The Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, England, used to have this as a condition for their guests: “Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review. (About $156)”
Never be honest, always manipulate, always color and spin. "As part of our continuing commitment to customer service you will no longer be able to call us.” Tell customers how much you care about them as you overcharge them and deliver bad service.
The result? A huge decline in trust of both organizations and their management. Edelman Trust Barometer has found that customers will trust an employee before they will trust a CEO. In fact, more than half of employees don’t even trust their own CEOs, according to a recent report by Interaction Associates. And year after year it’s getting worse.
Communications and marketing needs a radical overhaul, and it begins with honesty, and a genuine focus on customer needs rather than organizational ego.