August 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

Blue Nile captures live customer feedback during site search process

A link lets customers submit feedback while engaged in the site’s diamond search process. The tool has been so useful Blue Nile’s rolled it out to capture comments on other site applications.

With the average engagement ring purchase at its site about $5,600, and referrals a key source of new business, online jeweler Blue Nile Inc. wants to deliver a perfect customer experience every time. So it’s continuously digging for customer feedback, including, since March, a link that solicits comments from customers on how their search experience is going right in the middle of its new diamond search application.


This method of capturing feedback from customers while they are in the process of using the diamond search application has proved so useful that Blue Nile, No. 52 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, has now rolled it out to its custom ring builder and pendant necklace builder applications. It’s also instituted some changes to areas of the site based on the feedback it’s gained from customers in the middle of using those applications, says Darrell Cavens, Blue Nile’s senior vice president of marketing.


A click on a “give us your feedback” link at the top of Blue Nile’s diamond search page pops up a window in which shoppers can enter their comments. Those comments generate an e-mail that is automatically routed to customer service, technical staff, or whatever group in the organization is responsible for responding to that specific query. The submitted comments also get a wider e-mail distribution in the organization and reside in the common repository of BlueNile’s order management system, into which departments such as merchandising and fulfillment also have visibility.


Soliciting feedback while customers are in the middle of the purchase process has proved an effective capture mechanism, says Cavens. “Our customers are very involved in the process of buying a diamond engagement ring. They’re spending thousands, and they’re emotionally attached to the purchase. So they are very open to giving us both critical and positive feedback on what’s working for them, or isn’t,” he says.


As the result of customer feedback, Blue Nile already has made some changes to the new diamond search function it launched this spring, Cavens adds. For example, it’s added additional parameters to the search, and it reinstituted an earlier diamond comparison feature it had removed from the new diamond search design after customer feedback indicated shoppers wanted to see that feature.


Cavens says Blue Nile isn’t evaluating the new feedback application in terms of direct ROI, but in the business intelligence it provides about the customer experience on the site. “We are not so much measuring the success of the tool as seeing the value in using it more and using the data we get out of it more,” he says.



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