People who live in villages across the UK are angry at the Government’s decision to close down more than 2,500 Post Offices. The post office system in the UK is currently losing £4m a week, so a closure programme is the only way to stem the leak of tax payers’ cash, according to the UK Government.
Nowadays, the services offered by the Post Office have been replaced by things like online banking, Smart Stamp (stamps you can print at home via the Internet) and various other methods of accessing typical postal services, including greater competition.
However, the people who are critical of the closure programme have a common reason for being angry. They like going to the Post Office because for many of them it is a “social centre”. In other words, they visit the Post Office for entirely different reasons than the postal service or Government thinks. To a significant proportion of Post Office visitors, the main reason for visiting is to see their friends, have a chat – oh, and maybe buy a stamp. In other words, Post Office users are actually using the service as a social networking system, rather than a postal system.
The Government, though, wants the people who visit to only use the postal services; they don’t see the Post Offices as providing any real form of social operation. Yet that’s what their customers perceive as the main benefit of these Post Offices threatened with closure.
Two things emerge from this divergence of views. One is that you need to know your visitorss real reason for coming to your place – whether that’s a Post Office or a web site. Why do people really visit you? If you know the answer to that you can then provide the real services they want, rather than try to provide something they don’t want. In the case of the Post Office they could restore their missing millions if they didn’t focus on postal services, but provided them as an “add on” to the social side of things.
The second factor that arises is that social networking appears to be dominant again. Even in the offline, physical world, people want to connect with other people; it is the prime motivating factor for visiting the Post Office. Indeed, I know family doctors in the UK who tell me that the main reason many people come to see their GP is for the social contact they receive by being in the waiting room.
So, is your web site providing any kind of social activity? It is a significant motivating force for your visitors. And do you know the main reason why they are visiting your web site? Concentrate on these two areas and you could dramatically improve the success of your online activities.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+