“My customer can’t place an order”

Hat300One of the most common things I hear from my eCommerce site clients is that they have had a report that their customer “can’t place an order”.

99% of the time there is nothing actually wrong with the site – the problem is that the customer has done something that the site can’t cope with.

I want to give you some idea of how I normally proceed to work out what is going on, so that perhaps you can resolve this yourself without needing to involve your web site dude.  This also gives a speedier problem resolution for the customer, which will make them happy sooner!

The first thing I look at is whether the web site is actually up.  A lot of web site owners never actually visit their web site, and if the site can’t be reached by the customer, they can’t place an order.  If your site isn’t up, contact the hosting provider first.

Next, I look at how long it is since the site last had an order.  If the “problem” customer was say a week ago, and there have been several placed successfully orders since then, chances are there is nothing wrong with the actual system, and the site owner needs to look at what is different about that customer’s situation that didn’t apply to the subsequent successful orders.

Your site might have restrictions on it that are stopping the customer from proceeding with the order.  Maybe your site will only accept orders from one country, and the customer is not in that country (or entered the wrong country into the order form).  Perhaps the postage setup does not allow for orders as large as what the customer wants to place.  Most of the time, there will be an error message displayed in cases like these – so it is important to find out exactly how far the customer got before they got stuck, and whether there were any error/warning messages on the screen.  Then you can help the customer resolve that issue.

If you still have no idea why the customer can’t place an order, or if the customer can’t remember any more details (and is unwilling/unable to try again), you will have to try placing an order yourself.  Log out of admin, so that you are not an already-logged-in user.  Then try ordering the same products as the customer wanted, with the same address.  Use a new email address (not your admin one) if you have one, or make up a dummy one for now.  See how far you get.

If you come up against the same problem as the customer did, and you don’t know how to proceed THEN contact the web guy.  Ideally, give them all those details, including screen shots (if you don’t know how to do a screen shot, this will help: How to take a screenshot ).

As a last resort, your web guy might have to contact your customer direct.  But it is MUCH better if you investigate the problem thoroughly yourself first.  This will give you a better understanding of what has happened, so that you can help the next customer who has the same problem.  And, if it is a site issue, your web guy will take less time to resolve it.

Contacting the web site dude with nothing more than “A customer can’t place an order”, without giving any details, is the best way to ensure it takes a very long time to resolve the problem.  Get as many details as you can from the customer, work out what the issue is yourself if you can, and if you can’t, then contact the web guy with ALL the details.


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