Today I went to a web site for a company that makes and sells a product for managing customer service (the irony of that will be apparent in a minute). My employer is trying to launch a new tool to help track customer support incidents and ensure that they are being managed well, so we are possibly a prime candidate for this company’s product. When I discovered that this company existed last night while reading an unrelated article, I first tried to browse their web site on my phone and was largely met with offers to “Book a Demo”. Well, I’m not quite ready to book a demo. Before I turn over my contact information and have you start marketing to me, I just want to browse and learn more about your product to see if it is even close to what we are looking for.
So, today I went to their website on my main computer and found they had an option for “Watch a Demo” that looked like a short embedded video with a PLAY button. “Perfect!”, I thought, and clicked the button. It played about 2 seconds and then halted with a prompt for me to enter my name and email address to continue. WHY?! I don’t want to sign up for your marketing campaign yet. I just want to see a short demo of your product so that I can better judge whether it is worth investing any more time. Now you’re blocking me from doing that. I tried a quick totally fake email address, but they even had gone so far as to put some sort of validation routine that knew 123.com was not a domain they would accept. I tried a random character domain and it rejected that. At this point, I’m getting irritated and really thinking about just walking away, but this is an important tool for us, so I make up a completely imaginary name and properly formatted email address for a well-known software company which lets me get by their filter and watch the video. But now they are going to have a fake lead in their marketing database, and possibly worse, if I happened to make up an address that actually goes to someone, now that person is getting spammed without knowing why.
In the end, I was able to determine from their demo video that their product was not going to meet our needs. It looks like a fantastic system for a different sector of business, but for what we need, it was not a good match. I saved them time and effort by doing the research myself, but they really made it difficult, and ironically left a bad customer impression. As much as I liked the features that I saw, and can imagine it being the right choice for a number of other companies, I’m reluctant to recommend them to anyone just based on the overly aggressive attempt to build their email list.
That choice will end up costing them millions of dollars in future revenue, and they’ll never know what they missed out on, because of poor customer experience. (Read more on the lifetime value of a customer from Seth Godin here and here.)
Make it easy for people to do business with you.