Why traditional corporate websites damage customer perception

Why traditional corporate websites damage customer perception

Author: Amber Sharp

For any business, reputation is critical for success, and the management of that reputation is a much bigger undertaking in a digital world with your underbelly laid bare, at the mercy of a fickle market.

Many executives still subscribe to this idea that a corporate website serves no purpose other than to be a communication channel for investors and employees, and to ensure compliance, etc. They think that websites are not for customers, because “they don’t visit corporate websites and have no business being there.”

This is not the case. A Bowen Craggs survey shows that as much as 25% of your traffic could be customers, and 50% of those customers are not having a good experience. I’m sure we can agree, a customer scorned is rarely in a forgiving mood and will often poison other good apples around them – a dangerous gamble if left unchecked.

Traditional corporate websites alienate this important stakeholder group and, while they may have been useful for the needs of the past, we’ve come a long way and the world has changed, dramatically.

According to a recent report by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, global executives believe that customers hold the most power over corporate reputation, followed by investors and employees.

While all stakeholder groups presented in the report ranked high, these three important points ring true:

  • The customer is still king;
  • Customers are finding and visiting our corporate websites.
  • This access point deserves more consideration.

What are customers looking for when they visit websites?

The survey uncovered that half of the customers landing on these corporate websites were looking for information that is typically provided. The other half are mostly looking for customer service or specific product information.

Content your customers want:
  • Information about the company
  • General product and services information
  • Corporate social responsibility;
  • Company news;
  • Complaints/customer service;
  • Contact information and locations.

Worth noting, as we can see from the list, customers are interested in a lot of the content on your corporate website, and that should at least in part, be guiding your content strategy (tone, language, inclusions).

So, half of your customers are somewhat happy. The other half are leaving your website bitter about having wasted their time, unable to achieve what they came here to do. A big risk for your brand perception – especially when customers have a plethora of digital platforms at their fingertips to amplify their thoughts – positive or negative.

What can you do about it?

Put your stakeholders at the heart of your strategy. There’s no reason these sites can’t host a customer journey even if the solution is as simple as redirecting to the right brand or country sites.

Moreover, most corporate websites are not user friendly and content is packed with complex industry jargon because we just don’t know how to talk to our customers here. We’d go so far as to say that we struggle with communicating in a way that works for multiple stakeholder groups in one piece of content – but that’s a much bigger topic.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, or everyone would be using it. Solutions can include anything from directing customers to social media platforms for customer service, to conducting surveys, to providing a way to close a sale directly.

Unique problems require creative solutions and expert knowledge, which are well worth paying for (choose your provider wisely). A well-designed site that is easy to use, with clear journeys for your multiple stakeholder groups should only serve to cement your great reputation in the minds of your visitors.


It’s clear that there is a need for this shift, that the landscape is changing. Today, if you’ve put it online, everyone has access to it.

We need to think like our users. While your corporate website is all about you, when it comes down to it, its entire purpose is to serve your stakeholders – customers, investors, employees, media, suppliers, potential partners, etc. They need to be at the heart of its design.

As a parting gift, here’s a sentiment that rings true time and again: When you serve your customers well, every other stakeholder group benefits.

[Sources: Bowan Craggs: Chart of the week | Bowan Craggs: Customer and corporate digital communications]

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