January 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

Making Changes

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While we strive (and test) for perfection, sometimes slight problems will occur. These may be technical bugs or misguided improvements and can lead to big problems for your customers. Real-time data can help you identify and correct any issues immediately. By monitoring satisfaction scores during a shopping cart upgrade, Tower Records was able to pinpoint a problem with the shopping cart process for first-time buyers. By segmenting satisfaction scores for new customers vs. returning customers and looking at verbatim comments, Tower was able to determine that first-time buyers were caught in a loop and resolve it immediately.

Step Five

Impulse: Measure success

Action: Measure the accountability of your changes and your team

After your site is live, you’ll need to be able to prove that the changes you made were best for the site.

You should have a credible customer-centric scorecard in place to measure your team (including internal and external partners). Customer satisfaction metrics and other measures are a critical, objective point of reference for the entire web development and management team. Your ultimate goals are increasing transactions, conversions, loyalty, and profits. The proof of your success, and of the success of your vendors and partners, is in these measures, and that relationship should be communicated to management.

One note of caution: If your web changes were extensive, beware of the Relaunch Effect, a proven phenomenon that can often result in transactional, clickstream, and customer satisfaction data or scores taking an initial plunge as your regular customers get used to the new site and new navigation. This should adjust itself as people become familiar with your new structure, and all your scores should rebound to above baseline levels if you’ve made the right changes. However, it is important that senior managers be aware of the Relaunch Effect so that they are expecting that initial drop.


Step Six

Impulse: Relax

Action: Don’t stop now. Success on the web requires continuous improvement.

Sit back, take a deep breath, relax, and revel in your success … for about 10 seconds. The sad truth of being an e-retailer is that you can never rest on your laurels. Even as you improve your site and thrill your customers, their expectations will rise to meet the expectations bar you keep setting higher and higher. You must have the transactional, clickstream, and customer satisfaction tools in place to continually gauge customer attitudes and behavior so you know when to take action on more improvements.

Through this process, you’ve built a set of great metrics that will give you true strategic guidance, you’ve communicated your web site’s strengths and weaknesses to management, and you’ve learned what you need to keep charging ahead.


The Bottom Line:

There is a very truthful saying; you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Becoming a customer-centric organization requires you to manage customer satisfaction-meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of your customers. In an online retail environment, the customer controls the relationship-with the power to switch with ease to get the best service, products and value. If we focus on satisfying the customer we will reap the benefits of increased customer loyalty and customer retention…and achieve financial success.


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