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Wow, what a week for customer services. First we had the now-infamous Vincent Ferrari call to AOL. Then we noticed a press release on E-consultancy that painted a bleak picture of online customer services among retail companies.
Vince wanted to cancel his account and having heard “the nightmare stories” decided to record his phone call to AOL Member Services. Some 21 frustrating minutes later he finally managed to achieve his goal… not entirely helpful.
International fame followed after the AOL tape went viral – the combination of Digg and the New York Times channelled 700,000 visitors to Vince’s site in rapid succession, forcing him to temporarily remove the recording (still offline).
If you didn’t hear it you can watch him being interviewed about his AOL experience on TV via YouTube – the interview has excerpts from the cancellation call. Too funny, unless you're an AOL executive...
The shopping comparison engine PriceRunner has this week launched a service which enables consumers to access pricing information from 118118 operators when they are out doing their shopping.
Many online retailers are failing to get the best possible returns from shopping comparison sites because of a failure to optimise this channel effectively, particularly in terms of the data feeds they are providing.
Help could be at hand however…
GBuy is here, only it is called Google Checkout and despite the chief doers of no evil claiming that it “isn’t like PayPal at all”, it is, erm, rather like PayPal, in that merchants use it to process consumer payments.
Google Checkout allows consumers to purchase products by simply logging in to Google – no need for credit card numbers or filling out forms. Obviously you need to tell Google to begin with, but thereafter Google will store your credit card and address data...
In 2004 we discovered that half of all onsite searches returned no results, despite the fact that products were actually available and could be found by clicking navigation links.
What did this tell us? Well firstly, it made us shudder. Half of all onsite queries returned NO results! Why was this happening? The main problem seemed to be related to poor quality metadata, but we also realised that some of the big retailers had site search tools that were perhaps not up to scratch.
Roll forward to 2006 and we figured that it was about time to investigate the site search market. What tools are available? What are the trends and issues in the marketplace? Why should site search be a priority if you’re selling online?
One lost book, one disgruntled customer and a potential million dollar legal fee for Amazon - it's the latest in a series of morality tales showing how e-commerce companies can be hit where it hurts most due to bad customer experience.
How difficult can it be? It's only a text box and a button, after all.
It is, however, its very simplicity that makes the search box such a great example of the power of design patterns.
What can go wrong when we design a search box (what are the antipatterns)? What are the key elements of best practice in the design of a search box that enable us to avoid these pitfalls? And how many e-commerce search boxes comply with all aspects of the design pattern that we've just developed? For something so apparently simple, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the answer to that last question is none!
E-Commerce directors? E-commerce managers/team-leaders? E-commerce team members? Consultants/agencies? Online shoppers? Or how about all of them?
"E-Commerce Design Patterns are a distillation and summary of best practice, that can be applied quickly and effectively to create a variety of specific design solutions"
This is how we've defined design patterns. In this post, we explore in what way design patterns are 'patterns' and then tease apart our definition to compare each part with the definitions other design pattern experts have used.
eBay is launching new community tools and features to help sellers better market their products, according to a report on AuctionBytes. In particular, the online auction behemoth is adopting tagging, blogs and a community wiki.
Good move, by my reckoning...
Retailers are being asked to submit products directly into Google Base, rather than using the now-defunct Froogle Merchant Center.
The move reflects Google's attempts to make Base a central depository of third party information, something that was reinforced by CEO Eric Schmidt in a conference call yesterday.