Archive | July, 2008

5 reasons to improve your website customer experience during a downturn

30 Jul

5 reasons to improve your website customer experience during a downturn

We’ve been trying not to talk too much about the ‘credit crunch’ on our blog because quite frankly we’re sick of hearing about it in the headlines every day. But, if it’s something our clients are worried about, we felt we should provide some ideas on what to do during these uncertain times.

So we’ve created a list of reasons why you should improve your website customer experience:

1)  Rising fuel costs and household bills could mean more people turn online to save money

Instead of driving to the store to shop around, customers are more likely to research and purchase online in an attempt to save costs.  Research suggests that retailers are seeing an increase in online sales at a time when  there is a widespread decline in the high street, making the web a good channel to focus upon during a time when customers are more frugal.

Low cost customer research can yield small changes to a website which can have a big difference in improving customer experience.


2)  Lower numbers of customers with money to spend means finding better ways to improve conversion

With a predicted economic downturn all over the headlines, consumers are likely to restrict their spending and become more considered when making purchase decisions.

Through usability testing you can understand your customers’ newly formed needs and provide an online experience to meet their expectations. This will give you the advatange over yout competitors during this period.


3)  Getting your website in order now means you can have confidence in your site if your budget is reduced

If you have budget now, but you feel it could be sparse in the near future, it’s a wise investment to  ensure the site is delivering what your customers need, and what your board demands.

Understanding the barriers to online conversion now, and knowing how to remove these barriers, will allow you to make strategic changes to stabilise the customer experience.


4)  During periods of restricted budget it is even more important to get your prioritisation right

When budgets are tight, prioritisation becomes a critical decision making tool. All too often, website owners make prioritisation decisions based on business goals and available resource. It is critical to understand your customers’ goals and ensure that you include customer priorities in your thinking.

Having a site which focuses only upon your business goals in our experience is the best way to provide a poor customer experience because you can easily lose sight of customer needs.


5)  When times are tough, people seek experiences which make them feel good

During an economic downturn, marketers have noticed an increase in lipstick sales. The term ‘lipstick factor’ refers to phenomenon where women turn away from the more expensive shoes and clothes towards the less expensive items that make them feel better about themselves. During troubled times people have a greater need to feel better about themselves, so making customers feel good by providing small ‘pick me ups’ during their experience with your site is a way to thrive during the ‘credit crunch’.

Is your website catering to current customer needs?

Related services: Customer Experience Research, User Experience Audit, and Usability Testing

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Why don’t high street travel agents inspire customers?

14 Jul

Travel Agent Customer Experience

My girlfriend and I always seem to have real trouble finding a holiday, mainly because the brochures never seem to tell us what we actually want to know, like is the resort likely to be full of Brits abroad, Irish Pubs and McDonalds or can we find a bit of traditional food and culture here.

This time we decided to go for the easier route. So we decided on a budget, we picked a couple of dates we could both do and we set off to our local travel agent. Excited, we sat down in front of a friendly travel consultant and announced that we wanted a holiday in a quiet resort, self-catering, with a pool, around the first two weeks in September. We looked at the travel agent expectantly, she responded with a tired look and asked which resort and apartments we wanted to go to. Right here is where my experience breaks down, and I’m sure so does the experience for many other customers.

Improving travel agent customer experience is key to survival

I don’t want to have to paw through several brochures reading the same old marketing speak which makes every resort sound the same. I want to go to a ‘consultant’ for inspiration and advice. How hard can it be to recommend a quiet resort with self catering? I appreciate there are hundreds, but that’s what you get paid for isn’t it? Otherwise I can do all this independently on the internet and cut you guys out of the picture. Oh wait, that’s what consumers are doing.

For some time now industry experts have predicted the death of the high street travel agent. The stats seem to agree, with one report suggestion that only 7% of us are using the high street to book holidays abroad. If they are to survive, particularly in an uncertain economic climate, travel agents must provide an experience to really compete with the online channel.

The current in-store customer experience only works when customers know exactly what they want

Many of the high-street retail staff are called ‘travel consultants’. A dictionary definition of a consultant is “one who gives expert or professional advice” which is not the experience customers are offered when they are unsure where to go. Instead, they’re handed brochures, told to choose a resort and a couple of hotels and then come back. This places the travel consultant more in the role of a glorified booking agent.

High street travel agents need to adopt a more active role in recommending and inspiring

To improve customer experience travel agents need to be trained to recognise the customers need and provide a service that matches. When customers have vague ideas of what they want, travel agents should recognise the need to play a more inspirational role to match the customer needs to a few different choices and guide them through the process to make a final decision. It’s no surprise that they are losing potential customers to online agents when customers are forced to research the holidays themselves.

Are you responding to your customers needs?

 

Related services: Customer requirements capture, and Customer experience research

 

 

Liked this article?

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees