Don't Hurt Their Feelings

  |  August 19, 2010   |  Comments

When measuring customer satisfaction, make sure you're not ignoring your customers' feelings.

While you're busy measuring click-throughs, page views, and revenues, did you remember to measure attitudes as well?

The hard numbers around getting attention, optimizing landing pages, and improving conversion provide a solid handle on measuring the success of your online efforts. But the softer numbers about customer satisfaction are fundamental to your survival. The hard numbers can tell you what happened, but not why and not whether what happened was good or bad.

Brand managers will tell you that the more time somebody spends on your website, the better. It represents engagement (whatever that is). But if I spend 20 minutes on your site looking for your phone number, that's not a positive experience. So you have to ask people a variety of questions to get a more complete picture of their experience.

You want to know:

  • Do they like the site?
  • Do they like the navigation?
  • Do they like the experience?
  • Do they like the products?
  • Do they like the company?

These questions let you know if your advertising is in synch with your positioning and your offers. They let you know if your online efforts are making life harder for customers rather than easier. They let you know if there are any forehead-slapping problems on your website that, once fixed, can vastly improve how people do business with you.

Be cautious, however. Don't fall for the One Voice in the Wilderness Syndrome. Verbatim survey responses can be alarming. Having a human tell you straight to your face (OK, screen) that your website navigation is backwards, your product descriptions are indecipherable, and your graphics are offensive is a shock to the system. Don't fall for it. This is where statistics are your friend.

If one person is completely bent out of shape by your landing page, it's a data point. If 20 percent of the people who answer your survey are upset by your landing page, you have a real problem. That means you have a real opportunity to fix it. Don't jump into action because of one malcontent.

At the same time, make sure you take advantage of marketing optimization's most valuable tool: segmentation. If 30 percent of your audience says the text on your site is too small, the background music in your YouTube videos sounds like noise and not music, and your soup doesn't have enough salt, make sure you slice and dice the numbers to figure out who those people are. It might be that your target audience of teenagers loves your site, your videos, and your soup, and that these whiners are all over 60 years old.

You now have two pieces of profit-promoting information: your website is just fine and you need not spend a cent "improving" it, and: you were unaware that there was a new segment to cater to. If oldsters are interested in your products, it's time to target them!

So look into ForeSee Results to benchmark your customer satisfaction scores against other companies and sectors and to find out which improvements will have the biggest impact on satisfaction and therefore your bottom line.

Check out iPerceptions to get a handle on where people fall out of the shopping process and the ability to ask them for their opinion in given situations (hit the Back button 5 times, repeatedly added and deleted things from their carts, etc.). IPerceptions also offers a free 4Q tool that can show:

  • What are my visitors at my website to do?
  • Are they completing what they set out to do?
  • If not, why not?
  • How satisfied are my visitors?

Take a look at've seen its spinning [+] / [-] logo, which gives your customers a chance to give you feedback when and how they wish. Instead of being asked to answer questions, this little symbol invites the disgruntled to have a word with you and the delighted to shower you with affection.

However you measure customer satisfaction, make sure you're not ignoring your customers' feelings. Do that long enough, and they'll think you don't love them.

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Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and is co-founder and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.

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