Why hire a custom web developer?

Why your website may not be effective

Hiring a custom web developer is a good return on investment.  Unfortunately too many companies fail to do so.  They are victims of the notion that simply having a website is all that’s needed to take advantage of the World Wide Web.  The result is usually a website that is the equivalent of an online brochure.  With great fanfare they launch the site, check the box next to the “Get a website” entry on their to-do list, and sit back to watch the money roll in.

Months go by and nothing changes.  They have the same number of opportunities.  Sales stay the same.  The anticipated windfall from the new website never materializes.  Ultimately they conclude that “this whole web thing” is just a lot of hype.  A necessity only because it’s expected.  They fail to realize that their results are due to their lack of experience and expertise.  Experience and expertise that was readily available from a good custom web developer.

Today I’ll take a look at service related companies.  Service related companies are particularly prone to having online brochures.  Some of these websites are created at significant cost.  Others are done very cheaply using the services of companies that advertise free web design, or turn key solutions for $500.  You’ve seen the ads.  Ultimately the net result is the same.  “This is what we do, where we are located and how to contact us.”  Some are just prettier than others.

I’ll share a small sample of the types of things a custom web designer might have recommended.  Things that would have transformed the web site into a useful, interactive tool that engaged customers, captured new business and reduced costs.  If your website is just an online brochure, I have good news.  It’s not too late.  Hiring a good web developer now can still get you to where you need to be.

Improving the websites of service companies

What’s wrong with an online brochure?  Nothing is inherently wrong, but if that’s all your website is doing then you’re missing out on a world of opportunity.  Your website should be a component of your business processes.  It should provide a reason for your customers or clients to visit and to do so repeatedly.  When this happens you dramatically increase the number of opportunities you have to market your business.  If all your website is good for is one visit to collect a phone number, it’s not providing much value to you or your customers.

Many service related companies have some of the same basic processes.  For example, compare law firms and HVAC companies.  While they are very different types of companies, both schedule appointments and collect payment for services rendered.  How can a custom web developer transform the online brochure that these companies have into something more?

Scheduling

In most cases scheduling is done over the phone.  A common ritual is the back and forth between the front office and the customer over what’s available and what’s convenient.  We can eliminate this by moving the scheduling function online.  Customers and prospective customers can easily see what’s available, and select a date and time that is convenient.  This eliminates the labor associated with scheduling appointments over the phone.  With a click the customer has the added convenience of downloading the appointment into their calendar.  If the right information was collected, reminders can be sent via email, text or even automated call.  Not all customers will respond to this approach, but most will.  Those that do will have a much richer customer experience which the company will have provided at a lower cost.  Those that don’t can still pick up the phone and call.

Online scheduling also greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll capture new customers.  For example, someone in need of legal services may spend a couple of hours on a Saturday trying to identify a law firm to engage.  They’ll probably narrow it down to three or four options presented in the internet search results from Google or another search engine.  If your firm allows the individual to schedule an appointment online, then you’re effectively open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If the other options the individual is considering don’t have an online scheduler, then your chances of capturing that new client just increased significantly.

Data mining

Using your website to collect information about your customers can help drive revenue.  You’ve probably noticed how your local car dealership sends you coupons for services at just the right time.  They’ve collected data that helps them forecast when you will probably reach your next service milestone.  If you’re a business with predictable cycles, or your customers have predictable consumption rates, then you have the same wonderful opportunity!   Adapting your website to collect and store data that can be used for analytics and drive internet marketing campaigns will require a certain level of sophistication.  An online brochure isn’t going to give you that kind of business prowess.  Enlisting the services of a good custom web developer can.

Collections

Collecting payment typically marks the conclusion of a service related transaction.  A custom web developer can have your website collect the payment details upfront.  When your customer schedules service using your website’s brand new scheduler, prompt them for their credit card information.  You can preauthorize the transaction to make sure your client is capable of paying you, and then process it after the service is provided.  Collecting the payment details upfront increases the likelihood that the customer will keep their appointment.  Since your employees never handle the credit card, you also eliminate a potential exposure to your company.  The conclusion of the transaction can become a handshake without the need to present an invoice and fumble around a purse, wallet or checkbook.

Conclusion

These are just a few things that a good custom web developer may have suggested to transform a website from an online brochure to an integral component of the service company’s business processes.  If you’re serious about employing an online strategy, think twice about how you go about it.  Enlist the help of a custom web developer with an eye for both design and function.  It will be worth the investment.  Otherwise, you’re just checking the box.Help essay writing

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