Don’t Be Guilty of Premeditated Stupidity…

I have been talking in recent weeks about the sometimes arbitrary nature of many rules  – and how they can be an obstacle to getting things done. The ‘Pièce de Résistance’ of utter daftness though, is when we see something that not only inconveniences the customer, serves no purpose whatsoever AND potentially costs the company that makes it both customers and money…

To really illustrate how daft his can be, I need to tell you about what happened when I first boarded the ship on my recent cruise…

We’d been on board a couple of hours, been plied with a few drinks and taken to our room where I noticed that while all of ‘She Who Must’s…’  mountain of luggage was present and correct .. one of my bags, the one I usually take everywhere and contains all my usual paraphernalia, was very conspicuous by it’s absence.

A quick enquiry with our steward, (a sterling chap with whom I concocted various schemes to stretch many of the ships ridiculous rules to breaking point … but more of that another time) saw him disappear and return with a quizzical look … apparently it had been confiscated and impounded because it contained an ‘illegal’ item…

My sense of bewilderment continued as I was escorted through various decks to the security area where my bag sat in an area all of its own with the security staff creeping around it as if it was a sleeping lion.  What, I asked, could I possibly have in my bag that was so dangerous it merited such extreme treatment…?

Well, it seemed in my usual bag, the one I just shoved everything that could be useful when I’m out and about, among the spare pens, phone chargers and the like was, not a small nuclear device, or a canister of nerve gas but … my Swiss army knife.

The same Swiss army knife with a blade shorter and blunter than the knife I would be using to cut my dinner an hour or so later – really, if I wanted to hurt somebody with it, I would have to throw it at them. It might be an unkind thing to say, but it did seem the ‘security team’ had taken it upon themselves to impound anything sharper than them…

Of course I got my bag back (I did, however, have to wait until we docked back home to get the knife) but it was the conversation that I had with the ‘Security Chief’ that I still have trouble getting my head around…

If I had decided to, during dinner that night, have a funny turn and carve my way though half the guests with my fish knife in a murderous frenzy, it seemed to be less of a problem than leaving me with a Swiss Army Knife, that was used almost exclusively because it had the right size screwdriver to fix my glasses … because any action I took using the Swiss Army Knife would be pre-meditated !?!

I feel that I need to almost apologise for the excessive punctuation, but I thought the level of abject buffoonery involved merited it.  Now, imagine for a moment you were encountering this in the high street or online … of course you would not put up with it and you’d go elsewhere.

Now, obviously you can’t impound your customers …  but you certainly can impede them with things like making the most popular features on your site hard to find by not having a link on your homepage … or asking them to enter their login details every time they go from one application to another or, the biggest sin of all – making your order page too complicated. (For instance, asking your customer to fill in both billing address and delivery address, even when they’re the same … or there is nothing to ship.)

This actually happens more than you think, especially if your site is quite old, and the newer features have been added more recently and are all crammed in one sub-menu, or you used to ship physical products and now they’re download only … but you haven’t changed your order form template.

It’s silly stuff like this that can make all the difference, so give your site (or sites) a quick test-run to see if you’ve made anything hard to access or left something ‘lying around’ that might get in your customers way…

Until Next Time,
Tim Sig
Tim Lowe
Publisher, Tim’s Business Lowe Down

Tim Lowe

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