Thales : Leaving its card
Poor signposting undersells a useful contact feature.
Thales, a France-based aerospace and defence engineering group, provides business card options for its commercial contacts worldwide.
Thales has a database of 394 contacts for its businesses and subsidiaries in the 50 countries where it operates. These are archived under Global Presence within the Group section of the corporate site. Each entry gives a telephone number and postal address, supplemented with a fax number and/or e-mail address. It also has a graphic representation of a photo identity/name tag, though named contacts are not provided.
Clicking the identity tag launches a pop-up prompt to add the details to the user’s address book (either direct or via a vcard, depending on operating system and browser). The database can be filtered by Market and Location (country) from dropdown menus but is separate to and isolated from the main Contact Us feature.
Thales’ offering of an address book option is a useful addition to its business contact details. It is also a surprisingly rare one, though, and that is something Thales seems to have overlooked, with the result that site users are left to stumble across the feature. Only by clicking on the identity tag graphic does it become clear that it is an interactive business card rather than a simple visual feature: a brief explanation (‘click on a card to…’) near the dropdown filters would greatly improve its profile and ease of take-up.
Two other elements of site navigation also militate against the feature realising its potential. First, the heading ‘Global Presence’ implies in the context of the Group section either a text-based overview of the group’s operations or a local sites portal: ‘global business directory’ or similar would be more explicit. Second, the database’s complete isolation from Contact Us, which provides only generic e-mail addresses for the main product divisions, is a too-enthusiastic attempt at contact management that looks over-geared to contact handling at the cost of contact generation and customer help.http://www.thalesgroup.com/Group/Global_Presence/
First published on 13 October, 2009