August 1, 2012, 10:54 AM

Petco sniffs out what customers want

A new analytics tool pulls data from live chat transcripts and other sources.

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When Petco Animal Supplies Inc. wanted to focus on customer demand, it turned to a new analytics tool that zeros in what customers say about its products in ratings, reviews, surveys and live chat exchanges.

The tool, LP Insights from LivePerson Inc., compiles data from multiple sources, including Petco’s Bizrate consumer reviews and feedback content, its Net Promoter surveys of shoppers, its Bazaarvoice content on customers’ product reviews, and transcripts of LivePerson live chat sessions. An online dashboard summarizes the results.

“It allows us to see the whole story and better understand what customers were saying across all of these channels,” says Erin Smith, Petco’s director of customer care.

Petco, No. 231 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, deployed LP Insights earlier this year, making it one of the early adopters of a tool that LivePerson recently began offering widely. LP Insights enables Petco to capture, correlate and analyze customer information across both structured data, such as survey responses, and unstructured data, such as customer reviews, to get a more complete picture of customers’ opinions, Smith says.

Petco has been able to better determine which aspects of its products and services—such as pricing—were leading some customers to be champions of its brand or others to be critics. It then took steps to adjust its merchandising and services to match what customers indicated they wanted.

Because the offering is new, Smith says she cannot yet cite quantifiable benefits the tool, such as the effect on conversion rates and sales, but notes the insights provided have enabled it to take the necessary steps to build customer loyalty.

“We were able to better gauge what makes someone loyal to Petco, what makes someone recommend Petco to her friend,” Smith says. “Keyword analysis revealed what promoters and detractors of the brand were specifically saying, allowing our team to make those exact adjustments. We could clearly hear what customers were saying, for example, about product availability, pricing, product quality, and checkout problems, helping us to improve both the in-store and online customer experience.”

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