Testing Links to Online Loyalty

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Dec 05, 2005
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By John Hennessy

According to a new survey commissioned by applications monitoring service provider TeaLeaf Technology and conducted by Harris Interactive, 89 percent of those surveyed about their consumer transactions at shopping, banking, travel and insurance web sites say they expect problems when conducting online transactions.

Eighty-two percent say they are not willing to accept a lower level of service online than in the offline channel, and 34 percent say they’d turn to a competitor if they did experience problems.

Reported problems included:


  • Error messages, cited by 40 percent of respondents;

  • Poorly navigable web site (37 percent)

  • Difficulty logging onto a web site (31 percent)


Among those who have conducted online transactions in the past year, web site security, cited by 25 percent, and ease of completing a transaction, cited by 20 percent, were the most commonly cited factors believed to contribute to the online customer experience of completing a transaction. Only three percent felt web page download speed contributed the most to a positive customer experience in transaction completion.

“Today, even the most sophisticated companies are forced to depend on their customers to report online failure versus proactively identifying issues impacting their customer,” says Rebecca Ward, CEO of TeaLeaf. “This can lead to unidentified problems that negatively impact business results.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are companies involved in e-commerce regularly testing links, tracking cart or premature site abandonment and do they have someone
charged with continually improving results in these areas?


This article caused me to review my own site. I found a broken link. I’m working on getting it fixed. In the mean time, regardless of the number of visitors,
I can guarantee you that I’m frustrating 100 percent of those who try that link. OUCH!


Customers often leave brick and mortar stores due to operational failures such as a desired item out of stock, poor store conditions or a poor interaction
with an employee.


As the survey indicates, failing at similar online basics also causes business to flee. And online, it’s easier to take your business elsewhere. There’s
no traffic to battle. No car to drive. Simply search for a competitor and that competitor gets the sale. OUCH!


This ease of switching makes it even more important to maintain a smooth and error-free online experience if you want to keep your customers coming back.
Makes you want to check your site now doesn’t it?

John Hennessy – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Testing Links to Online Loyalty"


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Jeff Weitzman
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Jeff Weitzman
15 years 2 months ago

I don’t think it is useful any longer to lump all online retailers into one bucket and cite statistics about them. Two online retailers may have about as much in common as Tiffany’s and a guy on the street selling fake Rolex watches. The problem is, online you may not be able to easily tell the difference. For about $20 a month, the latter etailer is in business.

Some online stores should absolutely be devoting more resources to their consumer experience. Some stores are so abysmal, it would shock me if their CEOs had actually ever tried to purchase something from their sites. Testing broken links, page load times, errors, etc. can all be automated. It does take time and money to do these things, however, and not all business have those resources.

We all spend time here talking about how retailers can differentiate themselves through better service. Online is no different. Realizing that a smooth consumer experience is a competitive advantage is the first step. Marketing that advantage and maintaining it is critical.

Stephan Kouzomis
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Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 2 months ago
I have a very hard time believing that the web sites of Dean & Deluca, Bloomingdale’s, Circuit City, Border’s, Brooks Bros. and many more of the quality brick ‘n mortar retailers give shoppers’ complaint issues, for whatever. Do you think eBay will do like wise? I don’t know where this research came from, outer space! But the established retailers and major/proven online retailers are very shopper service oriented and seldom have errors. Now, the upstarts, and little known online retailers may not have the quality assurance image of the above-mentioned. But to think this group would not have an easy, consumer friendly, transaction / processing, they should be ashamed of themselves. Importantly, it’s their marketing advantage – hopefully! Finally, to the point of online retailing; having the management structure and many systems and programs in place, like marketing, research, customer service, and tracking programs – quality assurance is, and must be, a given. I know many that do have a business structure like P & G, and eBay. Why wouldn’t they? It is a consumer… Read more »
Mark H. Goldstein
Guest
Mark H. Goldstein
15 years 2 months ago

This is one of those studies that makes me want to pull my hair out. My in-store experiences are universally worse than my online experiences, i.e. we are talking stock-outs, surly associates, no parking spaces available, etc. The real study should have been ‘are online problems WORSE than in-store problems?’!

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
15 years 2 months ago
We are just now completing a new national research project that touches on this very topic. We found that businesses have three options in how they approach problems of this type: 1. Reactive: Wait for customers to tell them about these problems; 87% of companies fall in this category. 2. Proactive: Have staff whose job it is to find these kinds of problems and fix them; 13% of companies fall in this category. 3. Self-Correcting: Create a mechanism that analyzes how these problems occur in the first place and that has the capability of redesigning organizational processes so the problems never are generated again; one company in a sample of 300 fell in this category. Interestingly, a whopping 93% of executives felt “it makes little difference to customers” if websites have these kind of problems. But when we showed them the data on how much less expensive it is to be pro-active, and then even self-correcting, 81% of those executives changed their mind and said it was “important” or “very important” to fix the same… Read more »
Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

One piece of research I’ve seen says that if consumers have difficulty navigating or using a website, they are likely to not return to the physical store. If companies are not checking their links and do have broken links, problems with the website, or have a difficult to navigate site, they are likely to have fewer customers walking in their door and they will never know why.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 2 months ago

One simple idea that works is to prominently post a customer service number on e-commerce sites so customers can call in if they are having difficulty. I did this with a travel site over the weekend and having a promptly answered phone, and someone who could answer a quick question, encouraged me to complete the transaction versus going somewhere else. Clearly, there are significant costs to having “an operator standing by” but it seems to me that it’s a big indicator of the overall dedication to customer service that an e-tailer has or doesn’t have.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

A few years ago, I did some work for a famous conglomerate. They were having trouble launching a very critical on-line service. The IT folks repeatedly said they were ready to go, and it was clear each time that the service was buggy. So the launch was repeatedly delayed. Here’s the punch line: the conglomerate owned a software testing/usability company, but that company could not get any of the conglomerate’s own divisions to be customers! The IT people were afraid that “outsiders” would make them look bad. Another example: a few weeks ago I surfed the site of a world-famous management and systems consulting firm. Without looking for errors, I found them within 15 minutes. (I apologize, but for professional reasons I cannot divulge the names of the guilty.)

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

At the risk of sounding smug…there is a colossal difference in attitude between American and European retailers about their websites, transactions, navigability, customer service etc. Since the very earliest days of the internet – and I do mean ten years ago – my partner, colleagues and I have been working for clients to help them identify and achieve their aspirations. Some of these clients are big multinational companies that only trade b2b; others use their websites for information purposes only. Whomever, and wherever, the top priority we advise them is that it must be intuitive and it must be monitored. Simply having a presence and ticking that box has never ever ever been enough. As customer demands and ability increase, so does corporate responsibility. If you’re gonna do it, you better do it right or else not bother. When acting as a non-professional consumer, I always find it easier to get what I want and make the purchase on a non-American site.

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