RightNow Technologies : Overcompensating options
In setting out to be inclusive, an online contact form gives little thought to users’ convenience.
RightNow Technologies, a customer relationship management (CRM) technologies and services provider, has a White Paper Library on its website which features ‘free’ access to papers by independent industry experts. The profiling form that visitors must complete before their selected paper is released has 14 fields, all of them compulsory.
Among the postal address details required is ‘state/province’. A dropdown menu provides an alphabetical list of options that covers the corresponding administrative regions for a range of countries in Europe, South America and Asia/Pacific as well the US and Canada. The options are not, however, segmented by country and two default options (‘N/A’ and ‘Other’) are incorporated in the alphabetical listing.
RightNow’s ‘state/province’ menu addresses a common problem with online contact forms on the sites of US-based organisations with a worldwide audience or customer base. The standard configuration gives a list of US states and, usually, Canadian provinces only, reflecting the fact that the .com URL is treated as the home country site. International visitors are left with the distinct impression of being insufficiently understood or catered to. But in setting out to appear inclusive, RightNow has reached for the sledgehammer with little thought for convenience.
The first question it might have asked itself is if the field need be compulsory or even included at all. A full postal address has no relevance to the service, which delivers the white paper by e-mail. However much the company might want the information, for the visitor its inclusion as a compulsory item simply protracts the form-filling process unnecessarily.
If marketing insists the field has to remain, then it shouldn’t be beyond RightNow of all companies to make it less cumbersome to use. Options could be grouped by country, for example, or customised in line with the choice of country, which has to be made earlier in the sequence. This would also be a convenience for North American visitors who presumably are in the majority but who are, ironically, faced with a more time-consuming search through the extended state/province list.http://www.rightnow.com
First published on 18 August, 2005