We are using online services for everything now: Grocery shopping, food ordering, buying household goods, buying personal items, beauty products, jewellery, and now even hiring domestic helpers. Often we experience a lot of frustration during the process, and end up venting on social media about it.  This may or may not help since our comments on social media are often not read by the company in question and end up being dissatisfied,  only to be told that it was our own ignorance in using the site inappropriately.

Here are some tips that may help you making the best of your next visit to an online service:

1) Check Safety of the website

This is of utmost importance as you want your details, as well as details of your transactions to be safe & secure. Take care of the following points for this:

a) Check Connection Security Indicators

HTTP = Bad       HTTPS = Good
Never trust an HTTP website with your personal information.

b) View Certificate Details

View the certificate by clicking the padlock icon in the address bar

c) Look for Trust Seals

Trust seals are commonly placed on homepages, login pages, and checkout pages. They’re immediately recognizable and they remind visitors that they are secure on this page

2) Visit FAQ page before using the service

FAQ page on any website is an organized collection of valuable information that customers ask about their products and services. It will answer all queries you may also have. It will also help set your expectations right.

3) Get help from Contact Us Section

The Contact Us page is one of the most visited pages on any website
They provide email address, Phone number or on the spot Live Chat for Customer’s queries. Contact US section should ideally also give you the physical address of the office. Check it out on the map to check the authenticity of the company.

4) Check Social Media Activity

By checking their Social Media pages like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn  pages you can get better idea of what kind of product or services they provide & what kind of content they share on their pages. It is a way to check their legitimacy and online presence. It also tells you about the values, as well as the mission/vision of the business.

You can also check out the time the site takes to respond to customer queries, as well as the tone of the response. Social media can for example help you know, for example, what a makeup brand feels about animal testing, or what does it feel about child labour. Social media of an online hiring portal can tell you about how the helpers are sourced, and treated in the process of hiring.

5) Check Online Reviews about Website

You can check Google Reviews about the business website,  Positive reviews about the website builds trust and confidence. You should treat online reviews as your tool for measuring the growth of their business whether they take bad feedback as constructive criticism or not . Again, as with testimonials, take the reviews with a pinch of salt. Seeing too many 5 star ratings? Something is not right.  Especially because Google makes sure you see the negative reviews more often than the positive ones. That brings up another thing to remember: Check all reviews. Do not go by only the top ones.

Another thing to remember is that customers do not often come back to write good things. In such cases do pay attention to the response of the company. If there is a response to a customer complaint it tells you that the company is listening to the online chatter.  Lastly, remember that the complainant may be making a wrong complaint and using the social media to bully the company.  For example,  a customer may miss using the right search filters for choosing the flight time, book a flight for evening rather than morning, and then goon to complain on the website that airline is refusing a refund.  We sometimes get threatened by our users “Give me more contacts else I will write a bad review about you on social media.”  With time we have learnt to accept that there is more negativity on the social media than positivity.

6) Visit About Us page

The about us page is commonly used by websites to give customers more insight into who is involved with a given business and exactly what it does . It is often a reflection of the purpose and personality of the business and its owners or top employees. You may for example not want to pay for hiring a maid on an online website when you can just ask your security guard to send you a maid. But when you check the website, you will realise that asking a security guard for a reference of a maid makes him a middleman and the maid has to pay him with money or physical favors. It is better that you pay the website a small amount to reach the maid directly than through a middleman!

7) Check Blogs           

Reading blogs gives you the opportunity to read relevant content for the service that a site provides.  It also gives you many tips related to the area of work of teh website. For example a hiring web portal may give you tips on making a contract with your staff,  a job website may give you tips on making a resume, a baby care product may give you tips on dealing with nappy rash and a jewellery website can tell you how to take care of your diamonds. There can also be a little community via the blog comments section that may help in engaging with other customers

8) Read Testimonials

When it comes to any businesses the success depends heavily on word of mouth. Testimonials are formal forms of expression that support that concept.  When it comes to an online service, people trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from acquaintances. Often the testimonials will be without the details of the consumer, for the simple reason that the online service does not have the permission to divulge the identity and other details of the consumer. It is a privacy issue. Just look at what the testimonials are saying. Do they sound genuine or overtly positive. Take the testimonials with a pinch of salt. If all testimonials look the same, and talk about the same thing as the site advertising, chances are that the testimonials are fake.

8) Register on website

It is essential to log in or register for Transaction websites, E-commerce websites, Communities, Social Media websites, blogs, Online marketplaces etc to store the actions you have taken as well as to get responses. For example, if you are checking availability of a service or product, you will need a login for the website to update you. Similarly if you want to hire from a website, they will be able to update you on availability of your matching candidates only if you have created a login. This will also help you for future visits to the site since your last search will be saved and you can proceed from where you left.

9) Bookmark pages

Bookmarking creates a handy little shortcut in your toolbar to help you return to the site of interest with just a click of the mouse. It helps you save time, something that is the basic purpose of a website.

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