If your website is making promises you can’t keep, you’re not doing anything for world peace.

As tempting as it might be to promise the world in your website copy, at some point any highfalutin claims will fail catastrophically if you can’t deliver a decent experience.  And the effect will be far worse than if you’d promised nothing at all.

I made the following three calls to a certain holiday park in the last three days, who have a terrific website full of glowing promises for a great holiday, with friendly, welcoming, on-the-ball staff looking ready and delighted to look after your family as if they were their own.

Call no.1:

“Yes.”

“Hello, I’d like to book accommodation at your holiday park for next year please.”

“Next year?” (incredulous)

“Yes.”

“Well we don’t know what currency we’ll be using next year so we can’t take any bookings yet.” (harassed)

“Could you just pencil me in anyway and we can sort out the currency later?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to check. Can you call back?” (I’d rather you didn’t call back)

They aren’t being very “friendly” or “welcoming”; and they are definitely not “on the ball”. In fact they are the opposite. What they are promising me instead is that they are badly set up for taking next year’s bookings and that I’m an inconvenience to them at best. BUT, and I’m grasping at straws here – that when I call back I will be able to book because they are going to “check”. Whatever that means.

Call no.2:

“Yes.”

“Hello, I phoned earlier about making a booking for next year?”

“Well, we’re having a storm at the moment so we can’t take any bookings because the computers are down.” (harassed and irritated)

“Can’t you just write down the details and enter it into your system when you’re online?”

“No. You’ve actually phoned outside of office hours.”(accusing)

“It’s 5.30.”(hesitant)

“Well our hours are nine to five. You’ll have to call back.”

Do they even want customers? They are actually blaming me for the fact that they answered their own phone! BUT, and I’m really scrutinising for the silver lining here- they are fairly explicitly promising that I will be able to book when I call back. I’m not sure I want to call back but it’s the family choice so I plough on…

Call no.3:

“Yes.”

“Hello, I’d like to make a booking for next year please?” (weary)

“What dates?” (brisk)

“The 26th and 27th May.”

“Is that a bank holiday weekend?” (have you been naughty?)

“Err yes.”

“Then you have to book three nights. That’s the minimum.”(very brisk)

“Really? It doesn’t say that on your website, it says book on a nightly basis. We can’t stay for three nights. ”

“It’s different when it’s a bank holiday. Obviously you don’t have to stay for three nights but you’ll have to book and pay for three.”

“Obviously.”

[PAUSE] (awkward)

“I’m not sure about that. I’ll have to think about it. Goodbye.”

Goodbye forever.

As a business they have wasted everyone’s time on a bunch of empty promises. And sadly, instead of sparking that great customer/supplier relationship that can be so positive and inspiring, we now really dislike each other. And the world doesn’t really need any more negativity in it does it?

Would this happy synergy between website and reality have been so hard to achieve?

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“Hello, I’d like to book a lodge for next year please.”

“Certainly, what dates would you like?”

“The 26th and 27th May please.”

“That’s a bank holiday weekend I believe, in which case there is a three-night minimum stay.”

“It doesn’t say so on the website, actually.”

“Doesn’t it? Ok. Sorry about that. We’ll waive that in that case and amend that wording.”

“Ok. Thanks I really appreciate that.”

“Can I take full booking details from you now? We aren’t taking deposits because we are still finalising our financial systems for next year. But we will contact you six months before to arrange payment.”

“That’s fine. Thank you.”