Monthly Archive for March, 2010

Writing Great Web Copy – it only Takes a Cup of Tea!

I’ve been working for a little while now with Easthaven Group, an IT consulting company based in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sheryl Newman, one of the Co-Founders, has been working on wording to define her company’s uniqueness for the value proposition that will go on their new home page. To be honest, she’s struggled a bit to get beyond the usual bland, generic “anyone could say this” platitudes.

Yesterday, she sent me an e-mail with some “thoughts” she’d been mulling. What she wrote was excellent, edgy, direct, and clearly stating how Easthaven’s approach is different from the competition. We can easily take this great start and polish it for publication.

Here’s the key – I asked her if she’d written this just “off the top of her head with a cup of tea” (she’s also a Brit!), and she said “Yes”.

I consistently find that writing in this way – just start by putting down what you’d like to say without judging or polishing it – really helps to get beyond the writer’s block issues.

Customer says “Can you Help Me?” You say “Nope!”

I’m working with a b2b client on a major redesign of their Website. As part of this, we’re installing the Google site search engine (paid version!)

I wanted to see what happened if I searched for a product that isn’t listed on their site. Predictably, I got the following result:

    “Your search – [ search term ] – did not match any documents.


      Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
      Try different keywords.
      Try more general keywords.”

Now, I do think that in general Google Search is an excellent product.

However, this feels to me like the ultimate in “Non-Customer Service”.

Imagine a customer or prospect sitting across from you in the real world, and asking if you can help them with a particular product or service. Would you just say “No” and stop talking until they tried to ask their question again differently? Would you really make it sound like it’s their fault that they can’t find what they’re looking for in your store?

I certainly hope not – and yet, this is exactly what the standard “no results found” search utility does. This might be fine for Google itself, which is a generic search engine serving a huge and largely undefined audience, but it shouldn’t be how individual businesses respond to their visitors. At the least we need to be providing links to our knowledge bases, phone numbers or live chat access, and e-mail forms for easy enquiries.

My client’s Web developers are concerned that reprogramming Google’s source code so that we can do this would make it difficult to implement updates. So we’re stuck with giving our prospective customers a brusque “No” when they ask for help. I’m not happy . . .