Posts in Customer Experience

91 of 100 online retailers flunk the customer service test

customer service

You'd think downtimes would be good times to make shoppers happy. Heck, even New York's toniest restaurents are getting downright obsequious with the customers they once very nearly snubbed.

Yet the e-tailing group's 11th annual Mystery Shopping Study, conducted in Q4 2008, found the overwhelming majority of online retailers are falling flat in nine critical areas of customer service.

To qualify as "top performing," 100 online retailers were ranked on specific benchmarking criteria. The survey eliminates sites that don't possess the following "must have" criteria, in order of importance:

1. Toll-free telephone number present

2. Keyword search

3. Four or fewer days to receive package

4. Adequately and correctly answer e-mail question within 24 hours; provide a specific answer

5. CSR product knowledge when calling toll-free number, 2.0 or higher on a scale of 3.0

6. Six or fewer clicks to checkout

7. Email shipping confirmation sent

8. Email order confirmation sent with order number included

9. Real time inventory in shopping cart or product page


Are mobile shopping comparison sites any good?

Mobile shoppingFor mobile internet users shopping offline, mobile price comparison sites should provide a useful service, allowing shoppers to look up reviews and see what kind of value they are getting.

Mobile users are using their phones to access product reviews and compare prices when shopping instore, so how well do price comparison sites cater for this consumer behaviour?


Site review: Spotify

Swedish startup Spotify launched its online music streaming service in public beta a few months ago, looking to compete with established music sites like

Offering either subscription or ad supported version of its service, Spotify offers the artist and related tracks radio that is a feature of, but has also provided a good range of tracks that can be listened to on-demand.



23 ways Apple can improve my next iPhone

Apple iPhone 3G pic by Óscarq via Flickr)I purchased two things last year that have improved my world considerably. 

The first purchase was the Roland Juno, a synthesiser that is pound for pound the best value for money of anything I’ve ever bought. It is tremendous fun and all manner of synthy noises and weird Devo-esque sounds. It even has a cowbell. I can’t really play it, but I have a lot of fun trying.

The second thing was the delightful Apple iPhone. As you probably know, it is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. For anybody who runs websites for a living it is a must-have. I’ve been sleeping more soundly since I bought it...

However, as with most things, there is scope for improvement


Mobile site review: has been giving its mobile site a makeover, launching a new version which matches the pink look of the website, and has also been optimised for smartphone users.

I looked at a few mobile newspaper sites recently, and haven't been all that impressed so far, especially with those from UK publishers, so how well does translate to mobile?

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Amazon bows SMS shopping

262966 spells A-M-A-Z-O-N on your dialpad. It's the shortcode for TextBuyIt, the online retailer's new SMS shopping system.

Just type what you want - iPod Nano, for example, text it to that number and numbered search results appear on your handheld device's screen. Respond with the number of the item you want, respond to the prompt for your email address and postal code, and you'll get a call from Amazon to complete your purchase.

It's all so instantaneous, except for the waiting for it to arrive in the mail part.

Amazon TextbuyIt


Case study: Silicon Alley Insider promoting the wrong things to the wrong people

My RSS reader has subscriptions to feeds for several dozen technology blogs that I've come to rely on because they've provided news and information that I find useful and valuable.

I have but one simple expectation: relevance.


Does the internet need an open video format?

Mozilla, the non-profit foundation behind the popular Firefox browser, is putting its weight behind the development of an open, royalty-free video codec for the internet.

While popular video formats such as MPEG4 are quite robust, most are proprietary, covered by patents and require some sort of licensing on the part of software vendors.

0 comments trumpets usability

Insurance aggregator has been promoting its new look site recently with a TV campaign which focuses on the usability of its website.

On the ads, has got its customers to say what they think about the new-look site, with a focus on the improved user experience. With this in mind, how easy is it to get a car insurance quote on the new site?


Microsoft IE8 release candidate now available

As Microsoft pushes forward on the path towards Windows 7, the successor OS to a very disappointing Windows Vista, the Redmond-based software company has made an Internet Explorer 8 release candidate available for download.

IE8 will come bundled with Windows 7 and represents Microsoft's effort to maintain IE's always-vulnerable but still-dominant hold on the browser market.

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Wikipedia has 97% of the online encyclopedia market

Online collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia has a massive 97% share of internet visits among the top five reference websites, highlighting the amount of work that rivals like have to catch up. announced some new Wikipedia-style community features last week as it attempts to make up some of the ground lost to Wikipedia. According to stats from Hitwise, it currently has just 0.57% of US internet visits to the encyclopedia category.


Site comparison: Number10 v

As soon as President Obama was inaugurated this week, a shiny new version of the website was launched, replete with blog and RSS feeds, an indication of the new administration's intent to make full use of the internet.

I've been taking a look at the new White House site, and comparing it with, the Prime Minister's website which is still in beta since it was relaunched in August last year.