Follow-up Thank You card

Follow-up email: Why bother planning?

I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping this year online. Not for great deals, there doesn’t seem to enough time to physically go shopping.  It’s a great time for eTailers, which is why I was so surprised by my experience.

Whilst shopping for some friends in Scotland, I discovered that the manufacturers website couldn’t quote me a price for delivery – and so wouldn’t take my order. There was no online chat widget and the telephone number went to voicemail (citing business hours) so I had to send them an email.

My email just asked what the delivery cost was, or if there was another way to buy their stuff in the UK. The next day I got two emails back, one from their US office and another from their UK office. Both follow-up emails seemed helpful, they contained links to (different) places to buy their product & one email addressed my question of gift wrapping by saying that they’d raise it as a feature request to their manager. A bit strange for online stores not to be offering gift wrapping at this time of year, but hey, thanks for replying and taking my request seriously.

Clicking on the links was somewhat more disappointing. One link was for an online store that didn’t have stock of the product I wanted (specifically mention on the page that it was out of stock), the link from the second office was for a product that was in stock, but not the model I wanted.

A large portion of selling online is about creating the right atmosphere for customers to buy, including converting them at that crucial moment when they’re looking at your product. With just a little bit of extra work, this could’ve been a much better experience. Here’s how:

  1. Try to sell, if the product isn’t available tell me, and suggest an alternative.
  2. Homework, if the product isn’t in stock, don’t send me to the link anyway, it’s frustrating and you’re potentially losing out on my sale.
  3. Back-ups, if you have multiple vendors or sales options give me an alternative, just in case there’s a problem with me buying from the first one.
  4. Uniform message, if more than one office could respond to a message, try to make sure that the response is researched (predefined supplier lists) so that it can be similar, or at least includes the other office. This just looks more organized.
  5. Whole message, respond to the entirety of my inquiry, not just the first part. Most customers don’t want to have to write back repeatedly.
  6. Incentives, I didn’t complete my sale and I’ve left the site, I might have sent you an email but I’m not at the crucial point of closure anymore – incentivising me to buy your product will help to ensure that I complete the sale.


Measuring Customer Satisfaction

Managing Customer Satisfaction

What happens when you get on a plane and you’re happy? Or unhappy? Who do you tell? What do you do to communicate your experience? We all like to complain, how many bad experiences about flights do you hear vs. good? From a corporate perspective how do you react, how do you convert bad experiences to good ones before it’s too late?

This is what some of the new customer service executives on British Airways are trying to manage – capturing bad experiences and preventing them from escaping. The in-flight executive was measuring everything from the number of requested meals that couldn’t be served (I asked for chicken but got pork), through to seats requiring re-allocation and a random sampling of guest satisfaction.

Previously the CS execs had been using paper records, compiling & recording data for analysis afterward, today they use an app running on a tablet. The app allows them to not only rapidly dissect the data, but to make more informed decisions. It readily advises the team how they can compensate or make amends for service faults.

What if that could be taken just a little further? Providing the in-flight staff more information regarding the guest. Personal preferences, a past history of complaints (maybe they’re frequent complainers?), overall customer satisfaction metrics for the entire flight? Perhaps in seat surveying after the movie? Allowing you to capture a wider sample during the flight.

Do you remember receiving emails asking you how your stay or your flight was? How many of them have you responded to? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people delete them. The percentage of responses is tiny. Worse, once you have the data, there’s not too much you can do with it. The guest has already escaped. Your opportunity to influence their experience for the better before they start telling the world has already passed.

Using the airline as an example, ask yourself what customer satisfaction metrics are you currently measuring? What could you measure if you had a little extra technology to help? Most importantly though, how can you use that to better understand and manage (not just measure) your customer experiences?

Classic scales

Measuring performance with A/B Testing

Last month I decided to take some of my own advice and understand how to improve my blog with some focused study and A/B testing (Science!). The objective was to understand how many of the Marketing Resource downloads were genuine, and whether the users would be prepared to share their details or promote the site in exchange for the download.

I decided to begin by measuring the performance of my most trafficked page (Marketing Resources), and then trying a few variations to see what worked best. To get started, I stopped publishing. I figured that by not publishing anything meant I’d get a clear view of traffic & behavior without any wobbles from posts I make.

Then I upgraded the download software being used for my Marketing Resources section, allowing me to track individual downloads by date and to force subscriptions or tweets as required. I also installed an optional social pop-up system (this does have a force share option too).

For the first two weeks I setup the Marketing Resources page so that every download required visitors to either send a supporting tweet, or enter their email addresses. For the remaining two weeks, the page prompted visitors for an optional social share.

The results were shocking! By forcing users to share their details or make a social post, the page generated fewer downloads, but had considerably more traffic, shares and user registrations. Optional shares results in absolutely no change from normal, meaning less traffic but twice as many downloads. Here’s the summary data:

Mandatory Subscription or Sharing Optional Sharing
Tweets +8 +0
Subscriptions +60 +0
Downloads -50% 0% change
Traffic 20% increase 0% change

Depending on what’s important to your site, you can interpret this accordingly. More consumption of your material, but with no idea who’s consuming it & no obvious promotion from it. Or less consumption, but with a better idea of who’s reading & some extra social media mileage. For me there’s no question that I’d prefer the latter.

I’m going to be doing some more experimentation with how my Marketing Resources page prompts for shares, and I’ll update you next month with my findings. Hope this was helpful.