Potential customers increasingly obtain information from websites
and data sheets. If anything goes wrong here, it is very difficult to
repair this later during the personal contact. The Internet has changed
a lot of things: not only the technical processes to supply
days many people first obtain information about a company by looking at
its website, often before establishing initial contact.
People like obtaining specific technical information there rather than
going through the bother of phoning or e-mailing the company, which can
also have the disadvantage of triggering a flood of advertisements for
years to come. Without the company that is being inspected being able
to follow it up, customers gain an important impression of the company
in general, its products and the level of competency, efficiency and
It is thus all the more surprising to realize just how much goes wrong in this area. Some typical problems are described here:
- Often the perspective of the presentation takes no account of
the customers' information requirements or possible level of knowledge.
Visitors to the site are asked to make a choice based on made-up names
or type abbreviations, which then provide them with more information
although they often have no idea what it is all about. This generally
causes frustration and leads to information gaps.
- The web
technology does not work or it is difficult to navigate within the
website. Sometimes a search function cannot even provide suitable
results for a specific product name that is entered. Often it is not
even clear what types of pages have to be searched. Product
information, press releases or all available pages? Links often lead
nowhere, although this could be easily recognized with automated
methods. And the site takes too long to load if the CMS has to compile
every page from numerous databases, which quickly overloads the server.
Interestingly, the search engine robots often cannot handle this, which
produces disappointing search engine rankings for the site.
product information on offer is often put together with very little
care. Many specifications are so incorrect that an expert could easily
assume that the company is incompetent – which also undermines
trust in the quality of the products and the associated services. For
example a statement such as "beam position stability: < 0.15 mrad"
leaves many questions unanswered: full angle or deviation from the
reference position? Maximum value or average (perhaps r.m.s.)? Does
this include short-term (very frequent) fluctuations and/or long-term
drift? Under what conditions does the specification apply? Without
vibration and at a constant temperature or in the entire specified
temperature range? If you don't know all of this, the specification is
completely useless and tells you more about the source than about the
It is obvious that the nicest suits and demo objects that are later
presented at the trade show will have difficulty correcting the bad
impressions gained from the websites and data sheets. The difficulty is
that the insiders are usually technicians with too little understanding
of potential customers or are advertising professionals with absolutely
no eye for incorrect technical information. The answer is to employ an
external expert with the necessary technical knowledge who also has a
horizon outside the company.Author
Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta, RP Photonics Consulting GmbH
Paschotta is an expert in lasers and amplifiers, non-linear optics,
fiber optics and ultra-short laser pulses. With his company, RP
Photonics Consulting GmbH, he supports companies in Laser technology
and photonics with product designs, feasibility studies, independent
analyses and customized training courses.