Noble. Magical. Enchanting. New Jersey. Well played team. Well played.
This month’s Careers issue of Time Out New York includes a special feature titled “Cool NYC Companies: Behind the scenes at New York’s best companies”. Ai is pleased to announce that the Immaculate one, Mayor Jack Reynolds, was invited to be included un the TONY gallery of New York City’s cutest and hardest working office dogs.
For our Careers issue, we asked our friends at various digital and media companies to send us photos of their four-legged colleagues, many of whom hold important positions at some of the city’s top publications and agencies. Click through our slide show to meet some of New York hardest-working pups and find out what they do.
Once news of the slide show broke, the Mayor’s public responded immediately.
“This is great,” says Alex Schmelkin, President and co-founder of Ai. “It really is.”
“He’s kind of a big deal,” I said.
David Ow, Director of Project Management, really put it all in perspective: ”The feature is referred to as “Cute Office Dogs”. Look, this is fantastic and all but lets call it like it is, kids with ice cream on their face are ‘cute’. The Mayor is exquisite… magnificent.”
Much thanks to Time Out for including Jack in the slide show. He is honored to be included in such an accomplished and hard-working group.
I wanted to kick off the New Year by sharing two special anniversaries here at the joint.
We have two more people joining the 5-Year ‘Wood Anniversary’ club this week (2011 ‘Wood’ club inductees include Tom-Tom, Anna, Jess, Katie). Congratulations to Mikey “Boom Boom” LeDoux and Easy E (aka Ed).
My, how they grow up so fast.
And a hearty congratulations to the other fine and beautiful inductees from this past year. We are so glad you are here. You are a vital part of our family. Things just wouldn’t be the same without you.
Nothing but love and gratitude.
The proud 2012/2011 Wood inductees
Upon return from our holiday break, Mr. Ledoux was delighted to see that his desk has been decorated with photos of him through the years.
The man with the master plan turned the big 1-0 last month. Folks at Ai get a day off on their birthday, but the Mayor passes on that perk. Sure, he could have kicked it at home and watched Boy Meets World on TGIF, but he has a company to serve and protect. A true security professional never puts down his guard.
Join us in song to commemorate our loyal, precious piglet. Happy birthday little man!
(Make sure you listen to his emotional birthday speech)
We are the Ai UX & Design crew and we’d like to wish you all a happy Wednesday! Right on.
The Ai UX & Design crew
Mayor Jack, our fearless leader and VP of Integrity & Security, turned 9 years old last week. In typical MJR fashion, we celebrated this joyous occasion with great aplomb. And a touch of panache.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the following Thursday are just days away… Holidays are right around the corner. We’re not looking to change the world here at Ai, but we do want to play our part in making this upcoming year a safe, secure and profitable one. That being said, have a look at an article I recently wrote which was published in the B2C Marketing Insider.
12 Tips on Creating a Safe Online Customer Shopping Experience
“84% of polled Internet shoppers don’t think that online retailers are putting enough effort into protecting customers” (Forrester Research, Inc)
The E-commerce holiday shopping season is upon us and online retailers are busy implementing new shopping features, social campaigns, analyzing their test results, and redesigning their funnels from browsing to checkout.
The experts are out in force: Focus on usability! Optimize your product page! Come up with brilliant holiday promotions! Study the shopping trends! Yeah! Yeah?
No. Don’t waste your precious and ever-dwindling time focusing solely on usability and Ui improvements. Bottom line: If you don’t have your customers‘ trust and confidence, you won’t convert–regardless of all the improvements that your testing results indicated you should make.
This holiday season, make it a priority to ensure that your site is providing your customers with the sense of safety and security they are longing for in their shopping experience. Use our tips below to ensure your customers spend their precious time deciding which product to buy from your site, rather than then if they should even buy from you at all.
Prominent Contact Information
Contact information should be prominent and in a consistent place within your header and footer so that your customer knows where to go when they have questions or encounter issues. Display both phone number and email address so that your customers can contact you in the manner of their choosing.
Don’t Hide Costs
Transparency in shipping costs and delivery times is key – especially come holiday season. Be sure to provide all of the actual costs up front, including shipping, handling, and sales tax. These can have an enormous impact on the final price. According to OneUpWeb, 95% of customers want to know the exact cost of the order before proceeding into checkout. There is no better way to put the kibosh on a potential sale than to withhold additional costs until later in funnel.
When the user can expect to receive their package is enormously important as well, especially to shoppers cutting it tight during the holiday season. Show this information as early as possible as well. This is actually a deciding factor when it comes down to those final few days. Shoppers are willing to pay a premium as long as you can provide them with the security that it will arrive on time, as promised.
Return Policy and Shopping Guarantee
Shoppers want to know what their recourse is if their item arrives and is damaged, the wrong item, or just simply not what they wanted. Be sure to clearly spell out your return policy so there won’t be any surprises later. Do you have a shopper satisfaction guarantee? Nice! Again, place this prominently above the fold, and inspire your shoppers with confidence that they can’t make a wrong or irreversible decision.
Anticipate Their Concerns
Be mindful of the various sensitive touch points throughout the purchasing process. Address concerns before they even arise. If you expect your customers to share private and personal information with you, you need to address the reasons why you need the information at the appropriate times.
- A “We 100% guarantee your safety” link right next to the checkout button, and in checkout header that leads to a DHTML popup with your 100% satisfaction guarantee inspires confidence and keeps the user in the funnel.
- “We will not share your email with anyone.” next to email field lets user know you aren’t going to sell their email address.
- “Shipping details” tied with product, in cart and checkout, makes user aware of costs and availability early and often.
- “You can always change your order later” when tied to a call-to-action removes some of the hesitation associated with doubts on whether to commit at that exact moment.
- Don’t be afraid to invite phone calls. A sale is a sale. Including “Prefer to checkout over the phone? No Problem. Call us at…” at the top of your checkout give shoppers a sense of security even if they don’t plan on calling you.
Apply the Human Touch
Ten other sites may sell the same product, at the same discounted price, and have the same safety features in place. Differentiate yourself by emphasizing a personal touch and telling your shoppers that you completely understand their concerns. Give them that warm and fuzzy feeling that they are in good hands by hitting the emotional aspects of shopping.
Using the right tone and personality makes a difference. It is comforting for a customer to see “Please don’t hesitate to call us with any concerns or questions. Your security is our sole priority.” compared to a simple link to the Help Section. Instill confidence in your customers by speaking to them like human beings, rather than unique visitors, throughout the shopping process.
Your “About Page” and Value Proposition
Part of converting the customer is making them feel confident that they are in good hands. The ‘about page” is an often overlooked part of creating a secure shopping experience.
Are you family owned? Are you quirky? Are you a huge company that started off with two people in a garage? Do you donate a certain portion of profits to charity? Don’t let “About Us” be one paragraph of fluff about commitment to selling great products. Shoppers will see right through this. Be yourself. Shoppers have a greater sense of confidence knowing that they are at a real store run by real people.
Make a Good First Impression
Visual design has a huge impact on new customers feeling safe. Shoppers will form an opinion of your company within five seconds of seeing your home page. Want them to feel safe, and not think you are a fly-by-night outfit? Invest in design. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be award-winning, gorgeous visual experience. The site’s design need to give an instant sense of credibility and trust to visitors. Even though customers may not be entirely conscious of it, good design inspires confidence.
Performance & Stability
A slowly loading page, a site that’s down, or obscure programming error messages can raise instant doubts in the shopper’s mind. It is likely they are in comparison shopping mode, so if they were to leave one site and arrive at a site that loads slowly, or not at all, then the experience comes to a quick end. If they see errors and messages they don’t recognize, they will doubt your professionalism and whether their information is safe on your site. A solid technical implementation is as important as a great design.
Badges, Tigers and Seals Oh My
Seals of approval from TRUSTe or Better Business Bureau Online are widely recognized, but remember that a seal is only a graphic; it can be counterfeited. To be sure, make sure you link to the certifying agency’s site that profiles the merchant information. Also, avoid the Times Square approach putting eight different seals on your site. It diminishes the effectiveness. If you really feel the need to bombard 8 seals on there, all I ask is that you use the animated graphics. At least your savvy visitors can get a laugh.
Sweat the Small Stuff
Be sure your site has been thoroughly reviewed and that there are no misspellings or grammatical mistakes. They may seem tiny, but they will immediately cast your professionalism in doubt.
Security Through Social Validation
Social validation is a proven factor in influencing how people purchase products, and it’s no different when it comes to influencing why they should shop at your site for these products. Customer dialogue, reviews and interactions (regardless of what is being discussed) brings instant credibility to your site. People want to know that other people shop at your store. They want to see activity and not just take your word for it.
Now more than ever, privacy is a huge customer concern. Between Facebook privacy issues, Google ego-searching, and countless ads aggressively targeting hackers and screaming identity theft shoppers are only getting increasingly more sensitive and aware of the how, why, and when their sensitive personal information is used.
As online retailers, it is our responsibility to provide a safe and comfortable shopping environment for the customer, both online or off. The most successful businesses are able to instill confidence in their customers, and adding a relatable human touch. They develop a trusting, ongoing relationship with their customers to ensure repeat purchases and loyalty.Look folks, lets not forget – it’s the holidays! Do your customer and your bottom line a favor by letting them focus on giving rather than worrying. So you better be good for goodness sake.
Retain moisture… maintain texture… portion out fairly… There is more pressure on the ‘carver’ than there is on the ‘cooker’.
Uncle Wertheimer was elected house carver this year and gosh, did he take this bird to town. We couldn’t be prouder. It was a flawless execution. An absolute pleasure to watch.
So you’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “Why Redesign?”
Gosh. Funny you should think that, because it just so happens I recently wrote a little piece on that exact subject, as a featured blogger on Building43.com.
Redesigning a website is a daunting task. Budget, deadlines, resources, features, content, platform changes, brand perception, SEO implications – the list of challenges is a long one. The potential impact website redesign has on your organization is as enormous and critical as the process. Will conversion go up or down? Will your new site attract more visitors or will traffic drop off?
If you want more detail on the topic, take a look at a deck from one of my presentations at Internet Retailer’s Web Design 2009 conference, “Charting the Successful Redesign — A True Story About an Agency and Client Partnership”. It gives a detailed account on the site redesign, specifically what led to the decision and the steps we took to execute it. It does NOT go into pancakes and the secrets behind achieving a remarkable fluffiness. Lets just make that clear from the outset.