Friday, August 19, 2016

"There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Help Too Soon"

When we go into a department store, home improvement center, office supply store, or even a fast food restaurant, it's nice to be acknowledged that we are there, but give us a moment to compose ourselves. A well-intentioned question about helping us find something might be in order; however, it might come too soon for our general comfort. We may need time to adjust to their space and surroundings.

Ever visit a website to look for a product and have a pop-up chat person appear as soon as the page loads? We aren't even sure what we are looking for yet or possibly even why we are on that page (if we clicked on it from another site). Still, the pop-up appears so soon - too soon - and it's a little bit annoying since we haven't even had time to get our bearings yet.

How about when we visit a website and look at an item (not even putting it in our wish list or cart) and we get an email from that merchant asking if we need any help checking out - assuming we must have fallen asleep during the the buying process. They take the assumptive close to the extreme by assuming that because we paused to look at something that we really meant to buy it. They are just trying to make sure that we do.

Sometimes we will visit a website and receive a nearly instantaneous text message from someone at the site welcoming us, asking us if we need help finding something, or wanting us to reach out to them. While it's nice to be noticed - something often missing from a retail experience - it's so soon as to be a little unwelcome. It's presumptive and awkward. Give us time to see what we want to gain from the site and the merchant first. Let us initiate the chat if we want to dialog.

Then there's the site that will contact us the next day or even on the second day to ask if we still want the item we were looking at or that we put in our cart and never actually purchased. While it's nice to get a reminder in case we really did forget to finish the buying process, it's more like someone is keeping tabs on us to monitor our shopping habits.

So, yes it's nice to have someone interact with us - even if we have never met this person or didn't request their help. So often when we enter a retail store or restaurant we have to wait and wait for someone to appear. But, it's also possible - and quite unnerving - to have the contact come so soon that we weren't ready for it or prepared to engage someone that soon. Rather than helpful, it's annoying.

When we follow-up with someone that contacted us but didn't specifically ask us to call or email them - or possibly even expect it - let's remember how we feel in these instances when contact comes too early for our own comfort.

Engagement is necessary to make sales, but sometimes people are way too early in the buying or looking process to welcome that engagement.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.