Perhaps ignorance is bliss, but it’s certainly not in the recipe for commercial success. To eliminate the things that cause their customers to struggle online, organisations must first gain insight into the experience they provide.

They must identify the site issues that are most impactful to their bottom lines and remedy them quickly to minimise the number of customers affected by the problems.

This means developing a multichannel discipline so that customers transitioning from mobile to fixed web to contact centre all have the same rich, seamless experience that will keep them coming back for more.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Customer retention is a greater challenge online. A customer might stop by the same flower shop on his or her way home each night because it’s convenient, but what’s to keep them from switching from one online flower vendor to another?

By offering superior customer experience, there is a clear opportunity for companies across industries to get a leg up on the competition. Recent research carried out by Econsultancy and Tealeaf found that a mere 4% of businesses rate their understanding of the online customer experience as “excellent.”

Worse still, over three quarters of companies have “limited” or “no understanding” of why customers leave their site without converting .

It is especially worrying that ebusinesses do not understand why their customers fail to convert, as it indicates lack of insight where it’s needed the most: at the bottom of the online sales funnel.

How do most companies learn about website issues, then?

Perhaps the better question is when do they learn about issues, as the majority are unaware of site problems until they hear about them from vexed customers.

According to the study, 76% of ebusinesses are most likely to discover site problems as a result of calls to their customer service teams or from the emails they receive from customers.

This is certainly not ideal; treating customers as a quality assurance team. Best practice is to proactively discover the things that cause customers to struggle online in order to minimise the impact those issues have on the business.

The list of potential customer experience problems is virtually limitless. Other prevalent and serious issues customers encounter include bad site navigation and poor findability, as well as lack of information on the site, checkout issues and overly complicated registration/login processes.

No small potatoes

The largest online retail mortgage lender in the US, Quicken Loans, offers a great example of how even ostensibly minor website issues can become quite serious.

Some of the customers who tried to use Quicken Loan’s online mortgage rate calculator were being rejected. We found that the issue was idiosyncratic use of commas and decimal points that made some of the requests appear to be too low to qualify for a loan.

By discovering the root cause of the problem, the company was able to determine how many site visitors were affected, and estimates that the quick fix to this customer experience issue alone recovered $2m in online revenue.

Develop a multichannel approach

For many organisations, the online and offline channels are operated independent of one another. As a result, customers can feel like they’re working with completely different companies when they transition from the website or mobile web to the contact centre.

All too often, the customer facing offline parts of a business - such as call centre agents - have little or no understanding of the experience a customer might have online.

This lack of insight across channels poses a growing challenge for businesses, as organisations continue to migrate more and more of their business to online self-service in addition to launching new online channels.

Investing in online success

Investments in online channels continue to outpace the money being put into brick-and-mortar business fronts, yet investments in online customer experience still lag behind.

In these difficult economic times, there is a significant opportunity for the companies who not only recognise the value of optimising their online experience but also have the foresight to act by better understanding the struggles faced by their online customers.

With significant revenue gains and much-sought-after online customer loyalty hanging in the balance, the companies that understand and cater to their online customers will be best positioned to succeed in their markets.

Geoff Galat

Published 19 July, 2011 by Geoff Galat

Geoff Galat is Worldwide VP of Marketing at IBM Tealeaf and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (5)


John Management Consultants

Great article! What a brilliant insight!

about 7 years ago


James Greg

A great article rich with information. It was a delight to read this.

about 7 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

You have to understand your visitors! This includes they why and the why not of their actions. Sometimes small problems can produce a ripple effect that negatively impacts your business.

about 7 years ago


Phil Duncan

I wish our developers had the time to get past the low hanging fruit and look at the miriad usability issues that must be vexing our customers! The whole business needs to be behind this kind of thinking to drive a successful program of change. Great article, really inspiring.

about 7 years ago


Ursula Ron

Great article! And yes, the more we know about the "why" behind the actions of website visitors the better. To get insight into the "why" is fundamental in our solution [Kampyle Feedback Solution]. Being able to take actions based on the issues raised by feedback providers is a great asset, and the improvements done to a website will certainly pay off. Tealeaf's website is giving some great examples for how website optimization based on customer experience monitoring is profitable. Their customers saw fantastic ROI, congrats!

I believe, the more we are able to cross-refer the different data sets a company accumulated the better. Tealeaf cxConnect is obviously showing the same understanding. Kampyle just joined forces with ClickTale [Sorry for mentioning a competitor] for the same reason: The more insights, the smarter business decisions.

Honestly, it was this article, that made me visit Tealeaf’s website for the first time today. What a pleasure to navigate through this wealth of information. I am unable to evaluate the solutions as such (never used it) but their understanding of ecommerce and the challenges e-retailers as expressed on their website can be a real eye-opener to retailers that lost the focus: how to satisfy your customers and visitors with your website.

Best regards,
(Kampyle – Marketing Manager)

about 7 years ago

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