Blog

How Analytics Can Help You Improve Your Customer Experience

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Mon, Aug, 13, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

Image credit: Pixabay

 

The importance of exceptional customer experience (otherwise known as CX) continues to rise proportionately alongside usability standards and the surfeit of consumer options in the ecommerce world. Today, any given site must contend with more viable rivals than ever before, and provide a level of functionality that would have been top-end just a few years ago.

 

To adapt to this hotly-competitive marketplace, retailers must consistently identify and implement improvements, whether to their content, their technical configuration, or their operational procedures — and improvement wouldn’t be possible without digital analytics.

 

It is rich digital analytics that can tell you not only how your business is performing but also how each segment of your setup is contributing to the whole, and if you’re planning to bolster your CX, you should start by delving into your analytics. Here’s how they can help:

Attributing value

For ecommerce, product value is obvious and easy to follow. The price is on the page, and an order logs a set value on the system — simple. But what about the value of everything that goes into yielding that order? What is a lead worth, or a form submission? What kind of traffic matters the most?

 

Using your analytics platform, you can create custom goals with values of their own to make the distribution of value through the sales funnel infinitely more understandable. For instance, if you can see from the stats that 1 out of every 100 Twitter visits results in an order, and that the average value of an order from a Twitter referral is $100, you can attribute the value of $1 to each Twitter visit.

 

Why is this important for customer experience? Because it allows you to direct your attention where it matters. While customer experience should surpass a certain baseline of quality across the board, it’s perfectly rational to work harder to keep the most valuable customers happy, and being able to see a clear value split that takes your whole funnel into account will equip you to allocate your people-pleasing work accordingly.

Highlighting weak points

Since everyone likes and dislikes different website elements, personal tastes gets involved in websites assessments far too commonly. Perhaps a developer personally feels that a particular piece of content is underwhelming, and concludes that it needs to be removed or reworked — but the system isn’t there for the staff, it’s there for the users.

 

Assuming correct configuration, analytics will make it abundantly clear which parts of the site are working effectively and which are driving people away. Simply looking at a page funnel will quickly and unambiguously indicate which pages are losing customer interest and which are performing excellently.

 

Armed with that awareness, you can then commit time and resources to shoring up the overall chain by rehabilitating the worst performers, knowing that the investment is fully justified (as opposed to making improvements on a whim and hoping that they’ll prove significant). Since there’s no such thing as a perfect digital design, working efficiently is essential.

Revealing demographic information

If you’ve previously glossed over your analytics, then you’ll have a very unclear notion of the people using your website. You might even have extrapolated wildly-inaccurate notions of your user base from occasional support tickets, direct enquiries, or social media mentions. And if you don’t know who’s using your website, how you can provide them with an optimized experience? Beyond the basics, difference demographics have markedly different preferences.

 

By installing Google Analytics (or using an existing installation, as is more likely given the ubiquity of the software), you can take a deep dive into your metrics and find out more information about the people who spend time on your site. You can then glean insight from the commonalities about what you need to do (you may be best served using an integration-rich webstore package to start from scratch, or you may need only minor adjustments).

 

Here’s an example: the older your user base skews, the more important it will be to provide accessibility features (such as adjustable font sizes and robust support sections) and legacy compatibility (ensuring that your site is functional in old versions of Internet Explorer, etc.). However you achieve it, you must attune your system to those who’ll ultimately use it.

Identifying opportunities

Analytics grant tremendous insight into user searches, pulling data from on-site search systems and external search engines (albeit to a lesser extent in the case of the latter), and that insight is invaluable for plotting your future content and feature updates. Every case of a user searching on your site for something that isn’t there is an opportunity for growth.

 

And the prospective expansion might not even require all-new content. Suppose that your analytics showed that many of the visitors to your site were searching for a non-existent guide to using one of your products. Since product pages often feature basic instructional information as it is, there’s a good chance that you’d be able to quickly throw together a decent guide using existing copy and images, and plug that search gap with minimal effort.

 

In some cases, you may not have a clear idea of what your users are looking for with particular searches, but then your analytics data can serve as a jumping-off point for some community consultation. Reach out to your customers through social media, your website, and/or email surveying and ask them what improvements they’d make, then align the feedback with the analytics for confirmation.

 

Trying to create a great customer experience without taking full advantage of analytics is like trying to complete a puzzle in the dark. It’s technically possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, and you won’t even know if you achieve it. Only through keeping a close eye on the data can you achieve the consistent improvements that deliver consistent results.

 

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to keeping people informed about everything relating to entrepreneurial ambition and online startups. Check it out for the latest insights and stories, and follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

 

Tags: customer experience, CX, big data

President Obama's Views Post Presidency

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

Unknown

Thanks to Okta for inviting me to Oktane18 and giving me the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama - truly a "life experience."

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder of Okta hosted the hour-long question and answer session.

Following are the points made by the President with the parenthetical notes my own:

  • We live in culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and collision of world’s in a way previous generation. haven’t felt.
  • Previous generations knew 100 or 150 people.
  • How many people do you know today? (Thousands thanks to social media and CRM systems).
  • Today, there are rural villages in Africa in which everyone has a phone.
  • We have the ability to absorb information in ways that can be confusing.
  • While there are a lot of questions around technology and social media, the U.S. had a head start in trying to figure it out because we’re a people that came from everywhere else.
  • We've had to figure out how to work together since the country was founded.
  • The challenge today is how to maintain sense of common purpose, how to join together as opposed to splinter and divide.
  • If we don’t figure it out it will be hard for our democracy to survive (just what the Russians are fomenting in social media).
  • There is a misperception that government doesn’t work, and people don’t work hard based on their experience of getting their driver’s license renewed (everyone laughed knowingly).
  • The public sector has extraordinary talent and does a lot of things really well.
  • There is a big gap in technology, especially with responsiveness and nimbleness. A lot of this has to do with government's antiquated procurement requirements.
  • In a host of areas, like taking government data and putting it out there so organizations can use to improve people's lives, we made real progress during my term.
  • We tried to create, re-architecture and replace legacy systems in the FDA.
  • There is a need for big data sets to achieve the promise of personalized medicine.
  • We made inroads in a few of those areas; however, the political system is not being as responsive as it could be (because we are divided rather than united).
  • Creating a framework that’s agreed upon and transparent, most people understand is a challenge we should welcome and approach it in a systematic and transparent way (however, little in Washington is transparent).
  • We need to be proactive identifying the questions we have to grapple, with the tools we have to protect information, and be transparent about what consumers are giving up (Google, Facebook, et al).
  • There is a big lag between how we’re thinking about the social organization and technology.
  • We underinvest in the IRS because no one likes it; however, it can be a great deal more efficient.
  • As a consequence of no one wanting to give up their write-offs, we discovered the basic IT infrastructure of the IRS is held together by string and bubble gum.
  • If you made no changes to the tax structure you could make interaction with the IRS more user-friendly, but it requires front end investment no one is willing to make.
  • Business identifies the essential problem and hires good people to solve business problem.
  • Government procurement requires you to identify the problem and allocate a budget up front. That's not how a successful business works.
  • We need a good conversation between the tech community and people in Washington for ongoing deliberation and exchange.
  • There should be bias towards making voting easier not harder, there’s a legacy that dates back to Jim Crow to disenfranchise voters and it is being perpetuated.
  • If we can secure the voting process, and there’s a paper record generated along side the electronic vote, I believe it will come to pass but it will take awhile.
  • Laws are structured to make it hard for people to vote.

 

How did you instigate change?

  • Change is hard in personal live, it's hard for groups, it's hard for institutions.
  • The U.S. evolved from an agricultural-based economy to manufacturing-based economy over a period of 120 years.
  • Today we're evolving to a technology-based economy in just 20 to 30 years and that's hard for everyone to accept.
  • Principles for effective change:
    • Talk to people whose lives will be disrupted so you appreciate who they are and insure they are heard before you instigate change.
      • Listening is a good starting point for change.
    • Every issue you are dealing has probabilities.
      • Get the best info available.
      • Have, and listen to, diverse voices around the table.
      • Understand the different perspectives.
      • Have people who can argue all of the sides of the issue.
    • I set up processes so that by the time I made the decision I could say, with confidence, I heard all the voices, had all of the information, and made the best decision I could.
    • Initiating change requires enough situations like that, even when there are disruptions. where you can anticipate the disruptions and be prepared to address them.
    • There will be disruptions with technology (There already has been and there will be a lot more).
    • People are going to be resistant if their jobs are threatened.
    • Anticipate this and be prepared to address the change.
    • Ask people “What do you think?”
      • I would catch people by surprise and they would tell me what they really thought, rather than a prepared answer.
      • Deliberately reach outside the bubble of obvious decision makers.
    • I had a good b.s. detector, if a question wasn’t answered with confidence I’d drill in until I learned what the person was really thinking.
    • Insist on people delivering on bad news quickly.
      • Part of the culture we tried to build, these are human enterprises, they’re going to be flawed when you do screw up or you can’t solve something bring it to me and let’s solve it together

 

How did you go about vetting and hiring people?

  • The government has two million employees or so, only 3,000 are political appointments.
    • The entire process during transition, gathering names, going through folks who have the qualifications we were looking for, as well as interest in the position.
    • Tech is where we had a problem because tech pays much better than the US government.
    • So, we set up US digital services – a SWAT team of amazing tech folks who, like the Peace Corps, would come into the US government for six months to two years to work on a particular problem – example of the need for more creativity of how we staff government and non-profits.
  • Think of creative ways for people to take leave and make an incredible contribution.

 

What advice did you receive going into office that was useful and what wasn't?

  • Advice not useful and slowed us down and hurt effectiveness early on was the sense that somehow now that you are president there are certain ways you should do things that had to do with traditions but were not effective.
    • During the campaign, we communicated in a way that was fresh and accessible. That changed when we moved into the White House – it made the team feel more conventional than we should have. We corrected this near the end of the first term. There were a lot of fires to put out immediately when we got to the White House..
  • The best advice a number of people gave us was to maintain your humanity. Michele and I, partly because we didn’t want our girls to get weird from being in a weird environment, were very focused on this. It was important to make sure we did not lose ourselves, that we stayed intact in what we believed in and how we treated people, expectations of ourselves, kindness, honesty, being useful, and taking responsibility
    • People given great responsibility, power, and wealth begin losing a sense of what’s important, who they are, and holding on to what they have rather than responding authentically. We did not lose that, we came out intact.

 

What are your greatest observations post presidency?

  • I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency.
  • I get more sleep now versus five hours a sleep each night for eight years.
    • That's what's required if you are going to stay up to speed on all of the issues and consider different points of view.
  • There is a physical and mental element to being president if you are serious about the job.
  • Everything now seems to move in slow motion.
    • Today it takes two weeks to set up a meeting rather than two hours.
What are you and Michele going to be doing with Netflix?
  • I would not have been president if I had not learned early on the importance of stories.
  • As a community organizer I learned instead of telling people what they should think, I needed to ask people about themselves and their stories.
  • If you listen, people will tell you their story.
  • Discovering those stories creates relationships and committed people.
  • I continue to believe if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in each other that our democracy works, if we don’t then our democracy doesn’t work.
  • We want to identify people doing amazing work and create platforms for them to tell their stories.
  • We have all these amazing story tellers and we want them to continue to tell the stories we think are important, lifting up talent to identify the connections that we have between all of us.
  • We want to train leaders around the world to tell their stories.
  • We’re all human and have basic needs, wants, and desires for our families, for our children.
  • The country can go in one of two ways: 
    • We can go tribal, go ethnic, pull in, push off, think "us versus them," think power-first, view life as a zero-sum game, and have a need to dominate.
    • Or, the other narrative is a more fragile, newer notion that we can think, reason, connect, and set up institutions based of the rule of law, dignity, and the worth of every individual based on science and facts. This narrative is one the human race has pursued, and America has been at the forefront of, since World War II.
  • We’ve made progress in all of these areas in "fits and starts." Now there’s a clash in the two alternative ways of seeing the world.
  • Part of the political polarization is if you watch Fox News and read the New York Times you are viewing two different realities (this is divisive rather than inclusive and not in the best interest of democracy).
  • Obviously, I believe the second of the two ways is we need to proceed if we are going to be united.

Tags: big data, customer insights, community, Ethics, Trustworthiness, inspiration, empathy, listen intensely, authenticity, integrity, trust, transparency

Big Data and Market Research Have A Lot In Common

Posted by Tom Smith on Sat, Apr, 16, 2016 @ 21:04 PM

 

Big-Data.jpg

I was just reading an article in the spring edition of Big Data Quarterly and it appears that people and companies pursuing big data initiatives would be well-served to remember some of the basics we learned in market research 101.

Know what you're going to do with the data before you start collecting every byte of it. With the proliferation of sensor data, companies can become overwhelmed with data very quickly if they collect every piece of data rather than exceptions.

Imagine a city that's measuring flows in its water infrastructure. Does the city need to know how much water is flowing through a particular section of pipe every second or even every minute? Wouldn't the city be better served to determine a "normal" flow rate based of day and time and then look for exceptions to that data that may indicate a leak or a big event taking place?

By being more strategic in why you are collecting the data and what you are going to do with it you don't have to capture, store and analyze every data point. This reduces computing time and storage costs. While those costs might seem inconsequential today, determine how much data you're going to collect over the course of 365 days, and then 3,650 days. Is the cost still inconsequential? What's the ROI on those costs?I know a lot of companies want to collect all of the data they can and then figure out what to do with it after the fact. This reminds me of all of the surveys I've seen with 30+ questions, matrices, and open-ends that take more than 10 minutes to answer - wasting customers' and respondents' time. Rule number one in market research is don't ask the question if you don't know what you're going to do with the answer. It's rude and inconsiderate to the respondent and has led to a reduction in response rates and a loss of customers.

If you ask a customer a question and the customer answers it, it's incumbent upon you to thank the customer for their response and let them know how you'll address it. Granted there are very few companies following this "best practice" today; however, as companies become more customer centric, they'll be more conscientious about following up with customers who take the time to provide their invaluable input.

I've worked with clients that didn't even read the results of their customer surveys before creating a new website or developing a new product or service. Why did they waste their customers' time with the survey? It is any wonder customers aren't engaged with these companies? The companies sure aren't engaged with their customers.

With more data being collected on prospect and customer actions, customer expectations of your company, and the water company, are going to increase. If the city knows my water main is leaking, isn't it incumbent upon them to let me know rather than wasting water and sending me a water bill I can't afford? Today they may get away with it. In five years, they'll have no excuse of taking advantage of their customers or wasting a precious natural resource.

While the customer experience (#CX) bar is very low today, customers will become more savvy about the data companies are collecting and how they are, or are not, using that data to improve the customer experience. If you can save a customer time, make their lives simpler and easier, you can earn a customer for life. What if your competitor beats you to the punch? You'll lose a customer for life.

With all of the data you're collecting on your physical plant, how much are you saving on energy, water, and operating expenses? How much space is being wasted and how will your next building use the data you've collected to be a smarter building? How much are you improving the employees' working environment so you attract the type of employees you need to be successful?

Big data is new and exciting for companies; however, few companies have figured out how to use the data to improve their business, reduce cost, improve revenue, and customer satisfaction.

Ultimately the companies that figure out how to use big data to improve their business, across many areas, will be successful while those who do not will fall by the wayside.

Are you using what you've learned from big data to inform your strategic planning or just collecting data?

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: consumer insights, big data, market research