Live From eTail: Six Steps to Improve Site Service

Feb 14, 2008 2:46 AM  By

Palm Desert, CA— Nine out of 10 consumers experience difficulty online, according to Geoff Galat, vice president of marketing/product strategy with software provider Tealeaf. “And that one consumer is a liar, because every consumer experiences some sort of difficulty online,” he added.

In his Feb. 13 session at the eTail show, Galat cited a recent Harris Interactive poll that finds, 42% of consumers said they abandon their transaction when they experience some sort of online roadblock–and permanently decide to use another e-tailer.

While 53% did say they would contact customer service for help, among those 49% said their issue was not resolved. And 76% of those consumers who experience bad customer service after calling about a Web problem stop doing business with that company, decrease their business, or lodge a complaint.

It’s a no-brainer that merchants need to understand—and resolve—customer problems. So why isn’t this getting done? Most e-tailers’ IT folks will look at an online problem one way, while the marketing team will the issue a different way.

Galat listed six best practices to help the two sides make a connection and work toward a common goal of improving site service:

• Find out what the customer truly wants. Is it the ability to compare different product and services, ease of navigation, confirmation upon completion of transaction, ease of completing the transaction?
• Monitor your site usability score daily.
• Track the prevalence of known obstacles. Measure the impact of customer roadblocks on regular basis.
• Everything can be quantified. See what obstacles had the biggest impact on conversion rates and fix them.
• Use customer sessions to understand their experience. Consider the error message as something more marketing centric than a techie term thrown up on the site.
• Conduct performance reviews with real customer experiences. Apply the same call center monitoring strategies to the Web. Grab 10 customer complaints daily and see if there’s a common thread, then work on improving this issue.

Online retailers, Galat said, need to drop their separate marketing and IT silos and work together to solve these issues, or face further loss of unsatisfied customers.

“Both sides need to look at customer complaint issues from the customers’ eye,” Galat said. As a merchant you need to find out why customers could not complete the transaction. “The only way to do that is to walk it through and see what the customer is going through.”