I have a sales prospect who never answers the phone, I bet his phone system alerts him to the fact that it's me calling and so he lets my call go to voicemail.
I call our prospect and immediately the phone system kicks-in and attempts to present an image that I've called a huge company:
For Sales, press one. For Technical Support, press two. For Accounts, press three. For anything else, press zero. I press zero. The phone system entertains me with a piece of musak in an attempt to present the image that this company is so large and that job of trying to connect me is a massive undertaking the massive. It isn't. There's three handsets in this particular regional office - I've counted them.
In the quest to close this sale I've called this phone system and left many-a-message on the voicemail, because the recorded message tells me that my call is important to our potential Customer. I like music and so I've noticed that the musak plays for exactly the same amount of time, each and every time it undertakes to place my important call. The way the digital phone system has been setup clearly tells me that my call isn't actually that important otherwise it wouldn't waste my time with giving me extension options which, when pressed, make me wait for a pre-determined time of 37 seconds (I've timed it) for no reason other than to make the company appear like a huge and busy operation.
Believe it or not, menu systems tell your Customers an awful lot about the kind of business you are.
I mean, I'm sure you've phoned a mobile phone provider or a utility company and listened to their phone system's menu of options and heard the ghastly option
If you're thinking of leaving us, press X that only serves to inform you that this company has a worrying attrition rate and will drop its trousers to keep you.
Menu systems are all about directing your interest to things which are important to the supplier. This is why Search is such an important tool on the Web. Search lets you get to the *exact* page you are interested in. And here's the clue about SEO - if you continue to write pages about the things which interest you then you will never, ever, get a sniff of the new business opportunities presented by people searching for help online.
I'm writing this blog after a follow-up conversation that I had today with John Larkin of DWP Imaging. We are planning more photographic galleries and John's concern is that the website menu will become cluttered and confusing with too many options and categories. I totally agree with his foresight, a complex menu just isn't cognitive and so we began discussing how we could use Search to make the website easier to use.
DWP Imaging's website is built and managed with Web Diffusion, our exclusive website management system. One of the features that the system doesn't offer is a search facility. Giving DWPi what it's contemplating a requirement for will mean a rather huge chunk of work but, do you know what? I think it's going to herald a truly significant evolution of the present responsive menu system.