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Buyer behaviour isn’t always rational

Mrs R is a much more frequent – and better – shopper than I am. Consequently, she knows what sort of service shops can offer, and expects that level of service. But I notice that if it looks like it’s going to be an unacceptable length of time before a shop assistant becomes available, she will leave and shop elsewhere.

This gives her a feeling of satisfaction, even if it doesn’t make much sense. For a start, she (presumably) started with her first-choice store, so now she’s settling for second best. Also, the wait in the first store might have been unacceptable, but surely it was going to be less than walking all the way to another store, even assuming that the service would be instant there?

However, buyer behaviour isn’t always rational. And here’s the inevitable website analogy. When somebody visits your website, they have in mind what they want to do. It may be to read about a product, then ask for a quotation or further information. If they arrive from a search engine (as most do), glance at a page, and don’t see an obvious path to the end point, the back button is only a click away.

In this case, the end point is going to be contacting you. That’s why it’s such a good idea to have some indication that this process is going to be easy at the top of the screen. There are loads of ways of doing this, from saying ‘call us now” and having the phone number in the top right corner of the page, to including pop-out tabs offering live chat which track the users as they scroll down. Sticky bars at the foot of the screen are another great option.

Just remember that customers don’t like to work harder than they need to, and that even the best of us can be irrational at times.

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