Online Reservations: The Place Where "Don't Call Me, I'll Call You" Does NOT Apply
You know what I can’t stand!?!? Companies that have online reservation forms that don’t work. The whole point of filling out an online reservation form for a service is that I don’t want to have to follow up with you! I want you to contact me regarding my reservation. I don’t want to have to wonder whether you received my reservation submission, and I certainly don’t want to have to come back to the site and look up the phone number and CALL to make a reservation. If I wanted to do that, I would have done that in the first place.
Oh, and don’t tell me you didn’t receive the reservation form — like I don’t know how to operate a five-field form and press the submit button with my left click button. Let’s just come clean and admit that your form is broken.
But… I guess that’s what I get for submitting an online reservation for a service to a website that doesn’t even rank well for its own brand name. I had to get to the website by clicking on the 4th result, which was a Citysearch page, and then clicking on the website link. Oy vey!
The site I had issues with today — and other reservation sites out there — can take some notes from my favorite reservation system out there: OpenTable. I can select restaurants by region & neighborhood and then by date, time and party size. I can find out what reservation times are available in 15 minute increments, and I get immediate email confirmations of my reservations. I also receive email reminders before my dining date. Additionally, I get reward points for booking reservations online and dining at the restaurant. My personal favorite — the OpenTable representatives are accessible and helpful. When I had a question about a restaurant’s participation in a special event after I had made the reservation, the OpenTable representative took care of contacting the restaurant (by phone), getting an answer, and emailing me back promptly.
The moral of the story: if you’re going to have an online reservation form, be ready for fulfillment. Potential customers may not follow up with a phone call when they don’t hear from you. In a competitive space, they might just go to the next result down.