Representation, Relevancy, and 44 Screws

A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I went to our local furniture store and found a dining room table set that we fell in love with.

As we discussed how the table would look in our home, we were approached by a salesperson who informed us what a great deal it was. We already liked it and since it was such a good price, we decided to buy it.

When the topic of delivery came up, the salesperson quickly explained that the only thing left to assemble was the table itself; the chairs came pre-assembled. Of course, a box with a dining room table and four assembled chairs wouldn’t fit into our car, so we paid the extra delivery charge.

Fast forward to yesterday. Our table was delivered. The delivery men brought in one large box, and when we inquired about the chairs, they informed us that they were in the box, too. It turns out we really didn’t need to have it delivered, after all.

To add insult to delivery-charge injury, upon opening the box, there were no assembly instructions. Faced with 44 screws, washers, and various pieces of wood, it was up to me to put together the pieces of the puzzle that would hopefully become our new dining room table.

How does this relate to search engine optimization, marketing, and the search industry? In several ways.

Representation, Relevancy, and Repeat Customers

While the furniture store was relevant for the need of finding furniture, the product wasn’t accurately represented. When search engine users are on a mission to find consumer goods, whether it is a new car stereo or a hot pink pair of doggie goggles for their poodle, making sure that the product is accurately represented is critical.

If you misrepresent your product, or users of your site are led on a wild goose chase for the information that Google said they’d find there, the chances of them becoming repeat customers and site visitors is very slim.

Should a customer have a bad experience with your web site because they cannot navigate to the product they need, or have a negative experience with your business from a bad delivery fiasco, are they likely to return? If you’re lucky and your branding has a great reputation, perhaps. But, not likely.

While it’s great to get thousands of unique hits per month, what good are those hits if your viewers are leaving within 30 seconds because the information isn’t relevant, or not coming back because the product they ordered isn’t what they were expecting?

Buzz and Word of Mouth

Still true today is the power of word of mouth. With the ever-increasing popularity of blogs, social networking sites, local search networks, and sites dedicated to reviews, the importance of maintaining a good reputation is growing each and every day. It’s so important that some companies even have people working to protect their company’s online reputation.

If you’re not delivering a positive experience and if your product isn’t accurately represented, you’re probably not going to have people buzzing about what a great product you have – via good ol’ word of mouth, or on the Internet.

Importance of the Customer Experience

In conclusion, my experience with the furniture store, the salesperson, and the product that was delivered, made me think about search (as many things usually do). It reinforced my firm belief in the importance of accurate representation, relevancy, and providing a positive customer experience whether in a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce online format.

And, in case you’re wondering, we did finish putting together the dining room table last night. We didn’t even have any extra parts.