Is Your Web Site Search Broken?

broken egg imageTwo weeks ago, I ran out of fax toner. Staples didn’t have what I wanted, so I turned to the Internet. I found a site that sold ink and toner (so far so good).

I plugged the brand and model number into their search tool… and was sent to the main page for that brand.

There were about 20 pages of toner! I couldn’t find the one I needed unless I looked through each and every one. Not good.

So, I emailed them saying I need Brand X, model Y. Do you carry toner for that? I got an automatic message thanking me for my inquiry…. and nothing since. Now, here I’d raised my hand, saying, ‘hello, I’m a prospect, I want to buy from you.” And nobody cared.

Two important marketing lessons:

1) If you build a search tool into your site, make sure it’s easy to use and delivers visitors directly to the information they’re searching for. Don’t make it hard to buy!

2) If you have a contact button (and you should), follow up on the questions. Ignoring customers (or potential customers) is costing you both money and goodwill.

Image thanks to: stevendepolo

2 thoughts on “Is Your Web Site Search Broken?

  1. This happens all too often, I know, but I had the opposite happen to me a while back. Had a little glitch with a form at, filled in the contact form, and in less than *one hour* got an email back from a real person. Which was pretty impressive.

    The fact that the person was Marty Cox, President of It’s a Grind, was a pretty nice cherry on top.

  2. Search is vital to get right just so people can get round your site – very often people choose to navigate by search rather than using the official navigation routes.

    But its difficult, and even the biggest companies sometimes suffer from broken search functionality – though they usually have the resources to get it fixed quickly!

    Joel, that’s a great customer service story.

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