Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Customer engagement’ Category

How Gilt is making ‘easy’ even easier.

July 25, 2015

jessonline

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 5.37.40 PMGilt has made shopping online even easier.

Online retailers are always looking for ways to make shopping online faster, easier and more streamlined. The best practices are just that, because they work- customers like to shop in an expected way, in an expected order, leading up to the cart and checkout, where the decision is really made. Customers like consistency. Except when there’s something even better.

Quick View is one of those things- it enables shoppers to browse lots of products without bouncing back and forth to the product page. Most retailers have implemented Quick View and have found it successfully increased engagement and even the customer’s propensity to buy.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 5.41.09 PMNow, Gilt is making shopping even easier at the category level by building Quick View directly into the rollover. No need to click to see a ‘Quick View’. No window opening up with item details. Instead, on rollover- they show available size and color info, and an Add to Cart button.  Beautiful!

This isn’t for everyone. Some customers may need more info- and they can still easily click through to get it. But for power shoppers- in particular, Gilt Groupe’s shopper, this is ideal. Now they can shop in a flash and be on their way. This is a perfect example of a retailer understanding their customer and finding ways to make the experience better.

Well done.

Give me the text

April 18, 2015

jessonline

There is such a thing as overdoing your video content. When there’s a message I could just as easily (or more easily) scan via text- just give me the text. I can’t even count how many times I’ve clicked on an interesting link from Facebook, Linkedin or news media sites only to find that it’s a video link, and I can’t get to the content of the message unless I’m willing to wait through the ad, then sit through the video.

Video has it’s place- for entertainment, or education. But for news or content, give me text. I don’t want to have to go through it at a video’s pace- I want to see what it’s about and quickly move on.

What’s the best practice?

First, your link or image should clearly show that it’s a video- or you’re misleading me.

Second- provide the text transcript as an option.

Let the user have control over the experience.

What story do you want to tell?

February 3, 2015

jessonline

Campaigns are tricky.

People don’t remember your intentions, or your mission. They remember what you said. And how you said it. Communicating what you mean to communicate- telling the story you want to tell, is what matters. Making it powerful. Making it resonate. Retailers use shock value to create a memorable message. But what about when it’s the wrong message?

Nationwide’s Super Bowl commercial is a good example of good intentions gone awry. The “Make Safe Happen” campaign is a great idea. An honorable mission: to raise awareness and reduce the occurrence of ‘preventable accidents’, which are the #1 leading cause of death for children.  But the story they told was awful. Dark. Shockingly grim. They took what could have been an opportunity for hope, inspiration- and tear jerking happiness (think the Budweiser puppy getting saved by the Clydesdales), and they killed the kid.

You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKUy-tfrIHY

A good idea- with a bad message. Because in the story they tell, the kid dies. Not inspiring. Not hopeful. Not warm & fuzzy. It ruins the story. They WANT to tell us that preventable accidents are just that- preventable. And together, we can save so many lives. But that’s not the story they told.  The story they told is that if we’re careless, kids die. See what they did there?

In interviews, Nationwide says they were surprised by the level of negative feedback they got- but they meant to be shocking. They wanted to raise awareness for this important issue- not sell insurance (read the interview in the WSL’s CMO Today section, by Nathalie Tadena). From the article:

Nationwide was mentioned more than 238,000 times on social media but only 12% of those conversations were positive, according to data from Amobee Brand Intelligence.

“The intention of the ad was actually not to sell insurance,” Mr. Jauchius said. “It was to raise awareness of a cause that we’ve been championing for decades at Nationwide, which is to keep kids safe from preventable accidental injuries.”

Ok, then. That’s not what we all heard. We heard- the kid dies.

Why did they take that dismal path?  This just makes me, as a viewer, angry, upset and bitter about Nationwide (me and thousands of others in the universe). Why couldn’t they turn that message around and show how working together to prevent these accidents could save thousands of lives, and show how because of our efforts together, this boy lives to achieve his dreams- because at the critical moment- his mom ignored the phone call and stayed with him in the bathtub instead…? Why not turn it around? Let the boy live. Let us cry and choke up with happiness instead of grief.

Let’s take a look at a retailer that took the opposite path. The most inspiring commercial from the Super Bowl was the #likeagirl campaign, from Always.

You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3GpXgFwWmk

This, like Nationwide, is a commercial with a message that isn’t about selling a product. Like Nationwide, the product doesn’t make an appearance until the final moment- isn’t even relevant to the story. But after watching it- I want to support the product. Why? Because it’s inspirational. It made me feel good. It’s about empowering children. Empowering our girls. Taking a persistent slur, ‘like a girl’, and turning it around into something GREAT. It’s not the first time this has been used this way- ‘fight like a girl’ has been used to support Breast cancer research. Why? Because it works. It gives us power. It doesn’t threaten to kill our children if we’re dumb.

Thinking about powerful messages in advertising, it’s the ones that give us something that make a lasting impression. Power. Hope. Inspiration.

Which story would you want to tell?

Deliver on it.

August 4, 2014

jessonline

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you add functionality to your site, you have to know what the customer expectation will be- and deliver on it. Getting it ALMOST right is the same as getting it wrong.

Here’s an example: one day, I was shopping on one of my favorite flash-sale sites- amazing brands and products at unusually great deals. What’s not to love? But there are so many items, and I have limited time and patience. That’s why I was so glad to see a refine-by-size feature that allows me to sort by just the product that would work for me- good! That’s a best practice, especially for a sale in which quantities are limited.

navigation & refinements

Refine by size feature- a best practice.

 

The rub? When the refine-by-size feature doesn’t deliver real-time information, it’s worse than having no refinements at all- because you’ve set my expectations for a personalized result, but then let me down on the delivery. Advice? Turn the refinements off until you can get it right. It’s not a value-add if it’s only right sometimes (like a faulty clock: it’s right at LEAST twice a day…).

refine by size & navigation

Refine by size gone bad

I realize there are reasons these things happen- someone made a business decision based on a technical limitation or a tradeoff on site speed vs. accuracy…there are always drivers for things like this. But the bottom line is the customer experience you deliver. If you make a promise (showing a refinement by size)- then you have to deliver on it well or there’s no point. A bad experience actually detracts  from the perception of your brand (they don’t deliver!). Customers will bail on your site a lot faster when frustrated with the functionality.

This is just one tiny example of the many decisions brands make every day that impact customer experience. Make sure you understand the impact when you make the business decision. If it’s not worth doing right- it may not be worth doing at all.

If you need me to sign in, remember where I was.

June 14, 2014

jessonline

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not always the case.

If you want customers to interact with your site, you have to make it really easy. Really, really easy. If you make me sign-in or register to write a review, save to my wish list, or respond to a poll- I get it- you need to make sure I have a stake in what I’m putting on your site, that I’m not anonymous, and may therefore think a little more carefully about what I say or do. So I’ll do it. But do your part: remember where I was, and take me back. 

A good experience: I click ‘submit a review’. The site asks me to sign-in or register. I do it. After I sign-in, the site takes me to the next logical page in the path I was trying to take to begin with: the ‘submit a review’ form for the item I was looking at.

A bad experience: leaving me on the My Account page after I sign-in. Why am I here?

This isn’t one of those things that will give you an instant bump in conversion- but it IS one of the things that will enable your customer to easily connect with you, potentially stay on the site a little longer, and feel better about it, too.

The quickest way to lose a customer’s interest is to make it a chore to get involved. If I’m trying to interact with you, and you leave me on your “My Account” page after I sign in, am I going to go back and navigate to that product again? Maybe. Or maybe not. I would have to be pretty motivated. I can’t see wanting to submit my review that badly.

People don’t necessarily notice when you have a seamless site experience. But they notice when you don’t.

Do now for Holiday

October 23, 2013

jessonline

Free Shipping at Drugstore.com

Free Shipping is still one of the top reasons customers decide to shop on one site vs. another.  Yet most sites mention it in a minimal way, if all all. Why? It’s not a new message. It’s not sexy. Those who offer it know it’s a customer expectation. Many seem to think offering it is enough, but don’t see it as an important message at the start of the shopping process. That would be wrong.

The latest report from Forrester research shows that low prices and delivery costs are still the top 2 reasons consumers will revisit a site. As it turns out, fast shipping is much less important (#14 on the list of consumer priorities).  While many retailers have downplayed free shipping to explore how to compete with Amazon’s popular Prime service, it has not taken taken the place of simple, free shipping in the consumer’s mind.

While over 92% of retailers online offer free shipping, only 78% actually say so on the homepage, and 22% don’t talk about shipping at all. Those that do promote it, for the most part, are not showing it prominently on the homepage. For more details on the data, see the free summary of Forrester’s report on Internet Retailer:  Free Shipping Trumps Fast Shipping For Web Shoppers.

The do-now: Offer Free Shipping. Devote space to it. Make it prominent, persistent and legible on your homepage.

Some good examples:

Zappos has a prominent homepage message with a rotating message for Free Shipping, Free Returns, and First Class Customer Service. Also promoting a special offer above the nav for fast, free shipping on clothing.

Zappos has a rotating message for Free Shipping, Free Returns, and First Class Customer Service, while also promoting an offer above the navigation for Free next day shipping on clothing.

Neiman Marcus- free shipping and free returns

Neiman Marcus now offers Free Shipping and Free Returns, always.

Quidsy sites like Wag.com, Soap.com and more, offer a prominent free shipping offer above the navigation.

Quidsy sites including Wag.com and Soap.com offer a prominent Free 2-day Shipping offer above the navigation.

Macy's has a banner showing Free Shipping every day

Macy’s has a banner showing Free Shipping every day

Drugstore.com everyday Free Shipping

Drugstore.com offers a prominent Everyday Free Shipping message

These are just a few of the best I’ve seen lately. There are a surprising number of major retail brands who don’t show a free shipping offer at all.

The do-now is to make shipping FREE- if it’s not already. Make it prominent. Make it global. It’s an easy “to-do” that will make a difference. With a minimum purchase, you can ensure it’s paying for itself with the volume it drives. And you can test to see where the sweet spot is, for both volume and AOV.  Forrester also recommends that retailers promote it throughout the shopping path- not just on the homepage itself. Doing this gives customers reassurance as they browse thumbnail pages, product pages- and most importantly, the shopping cart. The important thing now is to start with the main message.

Do it now, before the holiday races begin.

Trunk Club: guys, you’ll never have to shop again.

October 6, 2013

jessonline

Trunk Club

Trunk Club is a personalized online shopping service for men.

If you’re a man that hates to shop, struggles with fashion sense, or is extremely limited on time-Trunk Club may be the best thing that ever happened to your wardrobe.

Trunk Club- a personalized shopping service for men

Ready for your next shipment? Just text your Personal Shopper, and you’re done.

Trunk Club is a personalized service that handpicks clothing for you- everything from shirts and jeans, to shoes and belts.  The best thing is how the service is designed: It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s tailored to your preferences. Each client is assigned a personal shopper, who will communicate with you as little or as much as you like. You can call, email, text- or even skype.  You can specify what you do or don’t want (more black shoes! Only pants…need everything…and so on).

The free service starts with a quick style survey, in which you select your style type  (clueless, confident or aficionado), choose from a range of looks and brands that reflect your style, add your measurements- and you’ll be matched with a personal shopper that puts together your first ‘trunk’.  The survey takes less than a few minutes.

Trunk Club for men

Shopping just got easier for men: Trunk Club sends you a selection, you choose what to keep.

When you get your trunk, you have 10 days to decide what you want to keep. You can keep it all, or just a portion, and send the rest back.

There are no automatic shipments. You simply call, email or text, when you’re ready for the next shipment.

CEO Brian Spaly started the service because he felt the experience of shopping for most men was too frustrating, overwhelming and time consuming. Before founding Trunk Club, he also founded a company named Bonobos, to create stylish clothing with a superior fit.  In solving the problems of fit and shopping, he’s made it easy for men everywhere to avoid the dreaded trip to the mall.

Guys- if you like the idea of never having to shop again, give Trunk Club a try.

You’re being followed.

August 12, 2013

jessonline

Your shopping mall just got a little smarter. Now there’s technology that allows stores to track customers movements through a store- where they stop, where they try on, when they buy- or what they look at before they walk out. It’s the same, in concept, to what retailers look at online: the customer path from the time  a customer arrives, until the time they leave- what they add to cart, what they look at and for how long, and where they are when they decide to leave.  Now stores can mine the same kind of measurable data: conversion (of those who come in, what percentage buys) and abandonment, and a glimpse into what’s generating interest as they walk through the store.

What could be controversial is that this tracking happens via your cellphone signal. If your wireless is on, the store software can ping your phone to keep track of where you are and what you’re doing. Is it an invasion of privacy? While it seems a little unnerving to be followed around like this, it’s really no different than what virtually every website does when you browse a site. And to be fair, we all know that there are abundant video cameras in stores and malls, so it’s not as if we couldn’t be watched before. As with website cookies, if you don’t like the tracking, you can turn it off- in this case, by turning off your phone’s wifi setting.

This technology gives stores the opportunity to better learn from what customers are doing- which, in concept- gives them the opportunity to improve the presentation to better serve customers. If they see that no one stops at the first sets of tables, or that certain racks get missed altogether, it might give them better ideas about how to re-configure the displays.  By simply making what people want easier to find, they could sell more. So that could be a win-win.

The problem, as with web analytics, is that the data alone doesn’t give you the whole picture: now you know WHAT people are doing, but you don’t know WHY they’re doing it, or how they’re feeling while they’re doing it. This is still an important problem to solve- the things that make it hard to shop, like too tightly packed racks, or hard-to-find size labels, or a limited size range- these are things that affect my abandonment rate- but tracking my wifi will not reveal that.  There’s no substitution for asking your customers what they think- not just the ones that buy- but the ones who don’t buy, too.

Next, we need to develop more sophistication in how we get that data. Surveys are okay for online shopping- but they are often long and tedious. Net-promoter surveys are great, because they ask just two questions: Would you recommend us to a friend? Why or why not?

What I want to see happen is the equivalent to the tapping a word on my kindle to see what it means: I want to see a way to provide feedback in context, in the moment- as it’s happening. That’s going to  be the most meaningful information to get. Now that I think of it, when I notice a typo in a Kindle book, I wish there were a simple way to highlight it and send an alert, in the moment, in context. Amazon, take note.

Racoon at the bus stop

March 10, 2012

jessonline

Making your brand extraordinary isn’t about the grand gestures. You don’t have to be a $500 million company to create meaningful moments for your customers. And you can be any size at all to fail your customers in the blink of an eye.

A pass? Providing your full attention in the moment. Acknowledging the customer who is waiting.  Saying ‘thank you’.  A little surprise, like a Reward card or a sample in the box. Saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’.

Epic fail? A scornful response to an angry or annoying customer. Thinking the customer is stupid. Not finding it important to make each contact a positive one. Forgetting that the customer is why you get paid to show up at all.

We always say it’s the little things that make a difference, and yet it’s so easy to forget as we go about our days, with all the accumulated stresses and pressures that we’re dealing with, to make the effort to listen, to really hear, and to respond thoughtfully and generously.  The people and companies that become legendary are the ones who are able to make the minutes count. Even the bad ones.  But how do they do it?  It starts with a clear, focused mission that puts the customer at the forefront. Consistent performance. A culture that sustains thoughtfulness as a value, even behind the scenes.

Have you every noticed how delighted you are when someone gives you what you want, right away, with a smile- even when you want to return something too late, or with the tags off, or you’re being antagonistic because you expect a ‘no’, and then you get a friendly ‘yes’? It’s a nice surprise. It can make you feel so great about an experience, and yet it’s really just such a small thing. It’s  not easy to be that person who smiles and remains friendly when someone’s being difficult and antagonistic, when viscerally, you just want to respond in kind.

That’s what makes it special. It’s harder to be nice sometimes, but it’s a win-win for everyone. For a brand, it can create buzz. It can make you remarkable. And your customers will so happily want to bring friends to you, because it’s surprising and wonderful, and makes a difference in their day.

It reminds me of something that happened last week on the way home. Every day I commute to and from work on the bus. I completely zone out, reading or sleeping the entire way home. It’s the same, day after day. Except one night, last week, we pulled to the back of the parking lot, where the headlights showed a racoon- yes, a real racoon, standing inside a plastic storage box turned sideways, eating out of a Chinese food container. The next night, he was there again, eating from a new one. Now, every few days, we drive that way to see if he’s home. And usually, if we’re there at the same time, he is. Someone is bringing Chinese food to that Racoon. Or he’s having it delivered. Or he’s found a friendly, neighborhood garbage to raid. The point is- it was an extraordinary thing to see in the vast paved parking lot with hundreds of cars and people going about their daily commute. Just hanging out, in all his fuzzy glory, eating his lo mein.

It made us smile. And we’ve talked about it ever since. But really, it was just a racoon. What’s so special about that? It’s just that it was so unexpected. So out of context. It was remarkable.

A great customer experience is like that Racoon. It becomes something worth talking about.

Grammar Matters

February 27, 2012

jessonline

Abysmal writing in business is a terrible thing. Besides being unpleasant to read, it can instantly strip away your credibility as a cause, a brand or a company.

Sure, the advertising and retail world take a little license to play with the English language to make a point, or to create a more powerful message. But that’s intentional, so we give it a pass (to a point).

Bad spelling, misuse of words, or flat out bad grammar can hurt you. It makes you look unprofessional. It makes your message look careless and sloppy. Organizations looking to print, publish or launch something online, thinking perhaps they’re saving a few dollars by writing it themselves, well, they’re not saving anything in the end. They’re losing credibility. They’d be much better served by calling the people out there who make a living doing it.

Here’s a striking example.  I got a letter from a local not-for-profit organization, working to protect open space. The header sets the tone for the entire piece, screaming,  “DO NOT EXCEPT FALSE CHOICES ON TAXES”.  Later in the letter, there’s a sentence saying, “If you were lead to believe…”

The entire letter is riddled with errors- grammatical, spelling, bad word usage.  It’s embarrassing. The letter is signed by a Ph.D and a Lawyer. So either they never took the grammar unit in high school, or perhaps a volunteer wrote it- who knows. The point is, they signed it. If your name is on it, you need to read it.

The other thing to avoid is superfluous formatting: excessive use of capital letters, colors, underlines and bold type- by emphasizing lots of things, they end up featuring nothing. It’s just ugly and sensationalistic. This seems to be a common, yet unfortunate method many direct mailers use to try to get our attention. It does. But not in a good way.

This is an extreme example, but I can’t tell you how often I see grammatical and misspellings in business and upscale retail communications. If you have a brand to protect, and an important message to share- take the time to make it good. Your message will resonate if it’s written well. Or at least have a fighting chance.

The unfortunate mailer:

bad writing works against a local non-profit organization

%d bloggers like this: