December 1, 2002
Optimizing Online Sales
Strategies Part 3
How to Create the Ultimate User
By Dr. Bonny Brown and Dr.
COMPANIES FACE A CLASSIC issue in deciding whether to concentrate on capturing
market share or catering to the most profitable segments. A well-designed Web
site is an inexpensive way to pursue both goals at once and cut operating costs
through increased self-servicing of accounts. If these benefits have not been
fully realized, it is often due to poor Web design, as we discussed last month
in part two of this three-part series.
Although goals for the site may be
defined, there are often no formal metrics to ensure the site has hit the mark
and to reveal how the site needs to be improved. Web sites are more than
advertisements or brochures, and are not purely functional software; they
provide a unique blend of marketing and customer interaction that can produce
strong impact on the site visitor. People can be turned off from a brand very
quickly. Web sites need to be the ultimate user experience — the very best
presentation of the entire brand experience.
The only way to truly understand how
to best build these sites — and how effective they are once built — is to
conduct research. The first step toward this end is to understand what customers
actually experience on the Web, and which elements most impact overall
Web customer experience cannot be
accurately predicted from self-report surveys, where participants must speculate
about their behavior, or from log file analyses, where the motivations for
behavior cannot be deciphered. Customer experience should be measured using a
multimethod approach that simultaneously captures attitudes, behavior and
perceptions, and integrates them into one interpretable picture.
To formulate an effective Web
strategy, telecommunications companies need to capture a multidimensional view
of users’ experience on the Web — from initial expectations, to interaction
with sites, to satisfaction with outcomes.
Dimensions of Online Customer Experience
Source: Vividence Corp.
Develop a Web Strategy Checklist
In order to formulate a winning Web
strategy to attract and retain customers, telecommunications companies need to
understand users in three major areas: Current use of the Web for researching
competitors, specific needs of different target segments and how users react to
Web sites that the company has already developed or sponsored.
Understand current Web behavior
for researching telecommunications services. How do key target market
segments currently research telecommunications offerings on the Web?
Telecommunications companies must
understand how target users currently find information on services and devices
— where they go, what information they find and what they like. For example, do
users go to search engines to begin their searches? What links does do the
search engines produce? What links do users follow and how satisfied are they
with the information they find? If they start with a general information portal,
which one, and what information do they eventually find through these portals?
What information are they missing? When are they likely to visit a provider site
directly? These questions need to be answered to understand what Web sites to
build, sponsor or partner with in order to best communicate specific benefits
and promotions to target audiences.
The overall performance metric to
monitor is the percentage of customers that are able to learn about the benefits
of deals provided by specific providers and, subsequently, the impact of this
knowledge on their likelihood to switch to or retain that provider.
Determine how to build the site.
Before building or redesigning a site, user feedback should be obtained on the
specific information users want and like, and how this information can best be
presented to achieve the goals that have been established for the site.
Try different approaches.
Assess different presentation styles and features before investing to build
similar Web properties, by sending users to competitor telecommunications sites
or other related sites. This helps uncover insights into likes and dislikes for
particular features and organizational methods. Test site or feature prototypes,
which can help decide between competing approaches in design or messaging before
building out the full site.
Assess overall site effectiveness
and ease of use. Once a Web site has been deployed, the site should be
assessed at regular intervals, with actual customers, to ensure it continues to
meet users’ needs and expectations. Customer-focused metrics, such as user
success rate on key tasks, satisfaction ratings and likelihood to switch or
purchase telecommunications services should be developed and tracked over time.
Be sure to measure a variety of
elements of a telecommunications Web property, including:
Effectiveness of the home page
Intuitiveness of searching and browsing
Communication of value proposition
Availability of promotional information and specific information needed to make a purchasing decision
Reaction to specific bundles and promotions
Online self-service customer support and installation
Account management, such as checking minutes, bill paying
Small business offerings
Overall site satisfaction
Ultimately, the site can be
evaluated to determine whether or not the experience with the Web site achieves
stated goals, such as increasing likelihood to purchase products and services.
Dr. Bonny Brown is director of
research for Vividence Corp., a provider of customer experience management
solutions. She is an experimental social psychologist with more than 10 years of
experience in both qualitative and quantitative research in psychology and
human-computer interaction. Dr. Anthony Bastardi is senior research scientist
for Vividence, overseeing quantitative analytics. He is an experimental
psychologist with more than 10 years of experience conducting theoretical and
applied research in cognitive and social psychology, specializing in statistics.
Vividence Corp. www.vividence.com
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