1. Buy your own products

You’ll never believe how many problems you can uncover when you try and buy your own products.

If you sell barbeques online then go through the steps required on your site and purchase it. Monitor and record yourself filling up the forms, find a way to track your order, try to arrange delivery.

When you receive the product (s), try them out, use it for several weeks and in our barbeque example try to install the product and see how difficult or easy it is to setup. 

2. Test your customer service team

Create different scenarios such as “I’m missing a product”, “I want to purchase on the phone”, “I’m looking for a…” and combine that with different attitudes such as an angry customer vs. a technical customer and see how your customer service team deal with it. 

(I’ve never quite experienced automation like this but when you can’t get to what you want it can be really frustrating)

Game for example doesn’t have any means of human phone support if you don’t receive parts or all of your order. An email with an underestimated response time can be really frustrating i.e. when “we’ll get back to you in 48 hours” becomes six days this can be quite frustrating for the customer.

More importantly to the angry customer they have to pay 10p a minute on an automated system for a mistake the company have made. 


Paul highlights how flawed customer service can be but for conversion optimisers, working with customer service teams is really useful at uncovering common objections users face from your site on a daily basis. For example they might not be able to find something easily or may need more information and/or clarity on a particular page(s).

Improvements to your customer service team can reduce the number of general inquiries with the right information online. This helps to reduce cost and allows support time to be better spent on resolving purchasing problems and helping customers to buy. 

Having a good customer service team can be quite costly and usually businesses will strive to cheaper alternatives such as an automated phone service or email. Make sure automated systems are tested out (in terms of helpfulness) and emails don’t go to spam filters.

Live chat can be a helpful feature for resolving any objections a user has and is effective when it responds quickly to a customer’s problem. Tools such as Olark and Live Person are good live chat tools for dealing with problems instantaneously.

For conversion optimisers, live chat can be a great place to dig for problems users have and provide great insight into what your choice architecture should actually look like. 

3. Speak to sales staff

I recently had the chance to speak with some of the retail sales teams at O2 and Phones4U to understand how they close a sale and some of the objections they face from customers. The sales team use a variety of selling techniques but at the heart of what they do is to remove any objections a customer has to close a sale.

For example imagine a customer wanted to buy an iPhone5. If a customer thought the new iPhone5 might be complicated to use then the sales consultant will show and demonstrate their own personal phone which tends to be that phone or a top range phone at the time.

Often words such as “it’s so easy my mum’s got one” help to provide context and acts as a type of social proof. They also compare it to another top range phone to:

  1. Upsell.
  2. Ensure the customer is aware of other phones in that range.

When we bridge the gap in knowledge to the customer and reduce the asymmetry of information we close more sales. Amazon having been doing this for years and provide all the relevant information to help customers make an informed decision.

At the O2 they also handle any technical questions with “O2 gurus” who are technical experts in the store. This creates an expert authority to prevent a user from going to other sources and stores.

This also provides assurances for the customer, for example if the product does have problems later down the line, I can always come back to them since they’re experts. Sales consultants can reveal online problems users have when trying to purchase and we can increase sales with these hidden gems. 

4. Question everything

If we transfer this approach to online websites and question our web pages we have a breakdown of typical stumbling blocks on product, basket and checkout pages.

This is not by any means an exhaustive list but a rough guide for retailers to get more sales from your online stores. 

Product page objections

These are typical objections that we see on product pages and by removing them we can reduce abandonment.

Product page specific objections

Each product is unique and will have its own set of unique barriers, here are some examples to help improve conversion rates.

Basket page objections

Basket page abandonment is a common problem for many retailers and it’s amazing to see just how much money is left lying on the table. Here are some ways to reduce basket abandonment.

Checkout page objections

Checkout pages are the final stage to a completed sale. Here are some examples to reduce checkout leakages.


There are so many different reasons why a user will abandon your site and by taking alternative approaches to finding out why they leave, we can target abandonment at its root cause and seek to solve it.

When we ask questions of our web pages, speak to customer service teams and sales staff we unravel the hidden gems and missing links needed to increase our conversion rates.