Your Website Just Lost a Federal Contract

While sitting at dinner with friends this weekend, we got into a big discussion on websites, as usually happens when I am around. But I think everyone can learn a Customer Service lesson from this dinner conversation.

Let me set the scene for you…

The person who gave me this feedback is a contractor for the federal government. They work on federally funded projects that have money to spend and this person has purchase decision power.

How many of you out there would love to talk to this person right now about your product?

Well they may have tried to talk to you or your company, but your company website prevented you from getting their business.

Recently, My Friend the Contractor tried to purchase a piece of equipment for their lab. Several hours of research followed before a purchase was made and here is why.

  1. They did a Google search and the found what they were looking for on the first website they went to. My Friend the Contractor went to request a purchase order for the equipment. However, after an extended search on the site could not find the business address of the company they were trying to order from. Now, if you are not familiar with the process, in order to complete a purchase order (especially for the government) My Friend the Contractor is required to include the address of the company they were about to do business with. When they couldn’t find it on the website they tried the email and the phone number, but neither message was returned. So, on to the next website. No purchase was made.
  2. At the next website, they were once again able to find the piece they were looking for, could purchase the piece online via the website and found they info they needed for their P.O. My Friend the Contractor looked at the website, while holding the piece of equipment in their hand, and tried to find the correct part number. But the part number on the piece in their hand matched nothing on the website. They could see a picture that matched what they were looking for, but the part numbers were clearly not the same. No purchase was made, on to the next website.
  3. The next website boasted that they have their entire product catalog posted online. My Friend the Contractor decided it would be a good idea to research the part number a little further after their prior experience. When they browsed to the online catalog, before they could look at single product, My Friend the Contractor was asked to fill out a form to opt them into the catalog, containing 10+ questions. They were not allowed to view the catalog until most of this form was complete, which presented a problem. Since My Friend the Contractor worked for a division of the federal government, they are very strict rules on giving out their email address and receiving bulk emails. They never saw the catalog, no purchase was made, on to the next website.

To conclude this tale, a purchase was finally made, from a company in IRELAND! My Friend the Contractor commented on how easy it was to purchase something from Ireland after the trouble with the US websites they visited.

The moral of this story is that stupid website decisions are costing you money. Things like posting your address are not big technical problems to solve. They are the difference between losing money and gaining a purchasing relationship with a government agency.

Do you have a similar website tale to share? Please comment below.