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Performance area reviews: Customer

Retailers are realising that they have to improve CRO not just for themselves but for their customers too since the happier they are the more likely they are to convert. “It’s more than just improving revenue. It’s also an important part of our general customer experience,” says Gary Baker, founder and managing director of online men’s accessories retailer Swagger and Swoon. “If we remove obstacles in the checkout for example, then it’s a better experience for our customers as well as better for sales,” he says.

Responsiveness is key and in the Customer Performance Dimension category of our Top 500 report it was Schuh and Burberry who led with how they dealt with customers online – both in terms of site performance and customer service as well as social media responsiveness – ranking in the Elite category of the rankings. Moss Bros and Majestic Wine also performed strongly too.

“Listen to those who already know the product and interact with your customers”

Stephen Green, Majestic Wine

Good retailers are understanding where friction points exist in their business – and therefore where the opportunities are for CRO – not just by testing but by testing based on feedback from their customers. “Much of our testing at the moment is based on customer feedback, especially where they’ve experienced difficulties,” says Baker. “Our customer service calls are integral to our CRO, as that’s where you can really get the detail of what a customer is experiencing. We have session recordings so once we’ve spoken to a customer we can go in and see exactly what they were doing and match it up to what they described to us. We’re working on a number of changes right now based just on this,” he says.

At Majestic Wine online optimisation manager Stephen Green also believes that the customer service team hold the key to knowing what, how and when to test and improve. “Successful outcomes often come from a combination of board insight gathering, effective listening and thorough planning. My best advice would be to listen to those who already know the product and interact with your customers – especially those in customer service. This feedback will help you to quickly identify a list of areas to investigate and quantify using your analytics tools,” says Green.

And sometimes it can come down to the very basics. In the Top500 report one we measured website engineering and responsiveness for example – looking at how pages were to load and what the site design did for the customer experience – concluding that with people’s short attention spans, coupled with customer’s likelihood to bounce if the experience isn’t up to scratch – looking at the site and business through the eyes of the customer is vital especially since customers no longer just shop on price alone.

Indeed many retailers interviewed for this report shared stories of how simply listening to their staff and customers had seen benefits to CRO in their business.

At shoe retailer Office, customers and staff have a say. “The multichannel team welcomes input from across the business as well as from customers and we have a very effective feedback loop where anyone can suggest improvements and chances, of which many are taken forward in to future tests or designs,” says Office’s multichannel director Robin Worthington.

Anything that builds trust can be hugely effective at winning over the customer. “Trust markers, social proof, images, filters, navigational labels and call to action buttons can all be important,” says Lee Howard, head of analytics at Practicology.

Many retailers are also going a step further and supporting their customers through initiatives such as live chat and product reviews in order to aid conversion.

At Country Attire co-founder and marketing director Jenny Parker says both have been a key part of her business and the company has had a live chat solution for around eight years. She says it proves particularly useful for retailer’s international customer base who like the reassurance of an online customer service representative to speak to on the retailer’s site. “Live chat for us is not a nice to have its essential and we have used it for years. All our customer service staff are thoroughly trained on it and we know it converts,” she says.

Toy retailer The Entertainer trialled the functionality for a two week period over Christmas 2014 with online trading manager Rob Wood going online himself to witness the sorts of questions that his customers were asking. “It was interesting to see what customers were struggling with and that gave us lots of information that we weren’t able to get from our testing,” he says. The retailer is likely to run more live chat functionality later this year.

And at New Look, which uses a reactive live chat feature from click to chat, click to call and click to video provider iAdvize the feature is well-used by customers with around 2,000 customers using it to chat about subjects as wide ranging as product or order queries to delivery questions.

iAdvize says the solution is particularly useful for companies that are trying to build a longer term relationship with their customers – as well as serve them well – since it can also allow them to help with ongoing customer support and increasingly as an aid for sales and conversion too.

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