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The Internet Death Penalty: Most Web Visitors Never Return to Sites After a Bad Experience

New Survey Says: 89 percent of business people aren't that impressed with the Web sites they visit; 66 percent rarely return to sites where they've had a bad experience

ATLANTA (May 15, 2002)— Most Internet users aren't that impressed with the Web sites they visit and Corporate America is doing a mediocre job of addressing people's online expectations, according to a new survey released by professional services firm Enterpulse. Furthermore, the survey indicates that an alarmingly high percentage of business people rarely return to sites where they've had a bad experience— suggesting that companies are missing opportunities with customers they didn't even know they had. "Companies are not meeting user expectations on the Web—and so are forever losing potential customers. That's the Internet death penalty," said Michael W. Reene, Enterpulse's chairman and CEO.

"While most sites today provide adequate basics—current information, for example—they're woefully unprepared to reach the next level of user expectations," added Reene. "Even worse, those responsible for the site aren't even aware that they are not meeting these expectations. This creates a huge gap between user expectation and reality for most companies' Web presence. Our survey should be a real wake-up call for Corporate America."

A majority of business professionals surveyed said Web sites are difficult to navigate, lack interactive tools to help them make decisions and fail to remember who they are. Most professionals say they have no patience for sites that don't deliver these customer-friendly features. In fact, 66 percent say they rarely—if ever—return to a site once they've had a bad experience.

The results of the survey are featured in a newly released white paper authored by Reene. In it, Reene says that many times an organization's Web initiative becomes a "hot potato" passed from department to department with no clear mandate or leadership direction. Reene suggests that for a company to close the "expectation gap," it must embrace a holistic, audience-driven approach to its Web strategy that defines how Web resources will be used by the company's key constituents—such as customers, suppliers and employees.

Other key findings of the survey include the following:

90 percent of those surveyed said they expect companies to respond to questions submitted via their Web sites within 24 hours. And 58 percent wanted that response even quicker—in less than eight hours.
Almost 80 percent of visitors feel that business Web sites tend to be designed from an internal company perspective versus a user perspective.
Only half of those surveyed say that they are proud of their company's intranet. Yet almost 80 percent look to their corporate intranet to do their job more efficiently.
When asked about "the keeper" of their company's intranet, respondents were uncertain about which division of the company should own that responsibility.
Nearly all the respondents—95 percent—say that it is very or extremely important that the information they need to do their jobs be accessible, up-to-date, and easy to find on the Web. Yet nearly half said business Web sites are not always easy to navigate. Link to source

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