Customer Service – What??


Customer Service – What??

Have you ever gone into a business and got the sense that you were a nuisance to their day? The other day I went into a body shop here in my town. I walked into the front office which was empty, but a few moments later a lady poked her head in the door and asked if she could help me. I stated I needed an estimate done and she rolled her eyes in frustration and said, “maybe in about 10 minutes”.

Okay I can understand being busy and I can even admit that when my phone rings sometimes and I am in the middle of something a “perturbed thought” can flash through my mind. But the caller gets “Good day – OTR , Ian speaking” accompanied by a smile that they cannot see but hopefully hear.

Back to the body shop, my response to her was that’s OK not a problem and walked back out the door. From there I went down to another body shop, where there was staff in the office and was greeted with a friendly can I help you? I asked for an estimate and it was promptly performed while I waited. The estimate came in at $2500 and the owner said to me he “did not think it is worth doing … not a good return for the amount required”. We did however spend $500 there on some new lights and I left knowing I had met a good place to do business and a place I could refer people and a place I would come back to.

I was on a business page on Facebook today and they had a picture up of their front door, stating people that did not pull their pants up were not welcome in their store! Here is a customer servicestore owner that does not recognise that customers come in all shapes and sizes and some dress well and some often poorly and in many cases not up to our “standards.” But they all have one thing in common – they came into our business looking for a product or service or just to get to know who we are and what we are about and we had better treat them well or they will take their cash to our competitors!

Other than making us feel better about ourselves and superior to the people we are keeping out, what is the advantage in alienating groups of people that actually spend cash in our businesses?

Oh, what would have kept me in the first body-shops store? How about this scenario; Hi welcome! How can I help you? I respond I need an estimate. Answer, You know I am right in the middle of something but I can get at it in 10 minutes. Help yourself to a coffee and I will be right there. Is that OK? I’d really appreciate your patience.

Now if she had done this I would have stayed and I wouldn’t have had a blog to write today! Your comments are always welcome so please take a moment to write.



Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


Web Designer Insider: Finding the Balance


Web Designer Insider : Finding the Balance

You’re not happy with your website, the design is old and feels stale. You are not generating leads at the rate of your competitors and you are now looking to redesign. Where do you put the bulk of your focus? Artistic  ‘Wow’ factor or into functionality and lead generation? How do you find the balance in the web development process?

Recently a thread of emails was shooting back in forth between marketing and design at OTR web systems and one email in particular from our veteran designer caught my eye. Igor, the designer in question, made some interesting and thought provoking statements.

Designers often want to be cutting edge with design on every site. They want the site to be web designersartistically brilliant and have the wow factor.This is completely understandable, they are after all artists. Here’s what he had to say. The following statement really grabbed my attention and provoked me to read more. I found it very interesting to get a glimpse into the mind of a veteran web designer.

“There are many fantastic websites made by very talented designers. Sometimes I am really envy on the creativity they show. As a colleague I am impressed! But would I be impressed as a client?!”

The reason this struck me is because the artist is more focused on the needs of the customer. The ego says art, the intellect says effectiveness. He wants to satisfy the clients needs for web development first!

Be Effective First

By focussing on effective web development first Igor is producing a product that will be seen. He has included all the keywords, SEO and other various tools needed to be found online and then be able to convert visitors more effectively. The absolute flip side is developing with artistry as the first priority and then having a beautiful, stunning web page that will rarely be found, if ever, because it has not been properly optimized, or is lacking in content. Igor sums it up nicely,

“When I am creating the website layout I am keeping this in mind – the purpose of the website is not to impress visitors and clients with fancy solutions. They are not coming toResponsive Web Design admire the design of the website. They are looking for some information, solution… practical things. The purpose of the website is to give them what they want fast and easy to find.”

Do Not Neglect the Artistry 

Effectiveness first, but the artistry must not be forgotten during the web development process. You have all visited those web sites where you feel like you are on a construction site or need sunglasses just to view the page! It is not a pleasing experience and you are much less likely to return to that particular web site. When working through the web development process effectiveness and artistry should be ranked 1 and 1a.

The Silver ‘Re’ Cap

  • Focus on web effectiveness first
  • Do not neglect artistry
  • Effectiveness and Artistry are ranked 1 and 1a
  • Make sure your designer understands the above points!

Effectiveness first, It won’t matter how artistically amazing your website is if no one can find it or just as damaging is if the visitor can not figure out what to do once they are at your site. Make sure your website functions first, then make it as visually wonderful as possible.

As always your comments and opinions are valued and desired.

Social Media is a Conversation


Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Web Solutions a web development & content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


Hashtags on Facebook Can Make You Look Silly


Hashtags on Facebook Can Make You Look Silly

The other day I saw a Facebook Page status update that really made me wonder what the person was thinking. The status update went something like this (though I have changed it a bit so the writer doesn’t “unfriend” me) – #fabulous #weather for an #afternoon #function! #functioncompanyname helped with the #finishing #touches on two #today. #fabulousfunctions #localregion.

It is hard to know where to start on this post and reminds me of the early days of search engine optimisation (SEO) where a person would stuff the page full of keywords and the engines would dutifully pull them up. Do you remember web pages and meta tags like this, “Our Super-Duper SEO company will guarantee to get you on the first page of  all search engines  with our keyword tools and key-phrase enhanced meta tags. We submit your website to 1,000’s of search engines and build reliable back-links …” and on and on it went. The search engines got smarter and learned how to dismiss this rubbish but stuffing of keywords still pops up its ugly head – as we can see in the phrase above. 

There is a huge difference between a Twitter update and a Facebook status update. They are written to often different audiences for different purposes. Why a business would have their Twitter update post automatically to their Facebook Business Page is beyond me. You post to Twitter a number of times per day and that seems like a real good way to lose your Facebook followers who will soon feel like they are being spammed to death.

The hashtag is an effective way within Twitter to group ideas BUT the Tweet itself still has to be compelling to the reader! A well written Tweet captures the readers attention and directs them to an article, website or landing page.

For example you might write something like this for your Twitter account,” What if we were to start a conversation instead #inboundmarketing #SEO ” 

Here we have combined an effective key phrase that directs you to an article and makes use of hashtags for anyone searching within Twitter.

Facebook however is an entirely different post –   We all know that social media is vital to promoting products and services. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, Pinterest, YouTube and so on, all provide different methods of delivering our message. The question is, are we doing it effectively? Are we just throwing up words on a page for people to read and then moving on to the next post by someone else, or are we grabbing the attention of the reader and beckoning them to be involved? Quite often I see social media being used by businesses as a form of advertising similar to print, TV, or radio. While this does get the message out on the web, it puts the ‘article’ in a box. It is closed.  What if we were to start a conversation instead?

Social Media is important and is critical to SEO as well as and just as importantly as creating an ongoing relationship with your customers. Sure they have to find you but then they need to be compelled to interact with you as well. Contact OTR Web for an evaluation of your online marketing.

OTR Web Marketing Business Online

OTR Web – Marketing Business Online


Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


Responsive Website: The Happy Medium


Responsive Website: The Happy Medium

Not to long ago you could hear the frustration marketing and IT departments around the globe. If their firm was keeping up with the latest technology then they had as many as 3 websites to keep fresh! Updating content was now 3 completely different processes. The desktop update was old hat and not a problem, then came the task of the mobile site and possibly the tablet site!

As the mobile web developed,  it was quickly discovered that browsing on your mobile device was often a frustrating experience.  You often had to scroll horizontally and vertically. As for content it was generally a skeletal version of the desktop site. Time, money, content and ease of use were all being sacrificed! This would have to change. There was a need and it would need to be satisfied.

Web Developers Respond

With  the advent of new advanced coding languages and web browsers web developers quickly filled this void and and created the happy medium, the responsive website. A site that will adapt to whichever device you happen to be using. Now as a consumer you get the same content on any device. This alone reduces bounce rates. The visitor is no longer frustrated and enjoys ease of use. In today’s online world, if it isn’t easy and convenient, then competitors site will win the day. Convenience and ease of use coupled with engaging content are what keep visitors coming back to your site.

How Does This Apply to You?

By developing a responsive website you can reduce the amount of time you spend on SEO by up to 2/3. This means you will have more time to create quality content to provide to your visitors. These visitors will now be more likely to convert to leads and then to customers. At the same time you will be reducing overhead both in finance and time! Let me say that one more time, increase visitors, the quality of the experience and at the same time reduce maintenance cost in both time and money. In today’s competitive business market saving time and money while increasing quality are the golden eggs we all strive to uncover. A properly built, designed and maintained responsive web site can help streamline your business.

The Silver ‘Re’ Cap: The Happy Medium

  • Reduce time and money spent
  • Increase traffic
  • Reduce bounce rate
  • Increase return visits
  • Decrease maintenance
  • Increase quality with time and money saved

Social Media is a Conversation


Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Web Solutions a web development & content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.