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Yearly Archives: 2012

using the 5 w’s when planning out your VoC experience

Who. What. When. Where. Why. You don’t have to be a journalism major to recognize these elements as the fundamental tenets of a news story. Heck, the closest I come to formal training in reporting is my extensive collection of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen comic books, and that list has been ingrained in my consciousness via osmosis.

But those five Ws aren’t just for carrot-topped cub reporters; they’re also the core fundamentals when planning out your Voice of Customer experience. They provide a perfect framework for focusing your thinking as you prepare your comment card and your plans for what you’ll do with the data you’re going to be receiving.

The Who bit might seem fairly obvious, and many times it will be: you want to leave the VoC welcome mat out for all of your users. But you need to think about the demographics of your visitors and how different segments use your site. Your front page is going to be visited by a different base than is a technical document or specialized product offering. So it makes sense to differentiate the VoC comment card that you serve to each of them.

What are you trying to learn? If you’ve got a problem pipeline on your site that you’re trying to diagnose, you need to make sure that the card you’re serving is facilitating that goal. The questions should be succinct but pointed, and you might want to use an invitation or event-driven comment card to get opinions from users who might not know that you’re actively soliciting them. On the other hand, if you’re just keeping your ear to the ground, make sure that your card is simple, direct, and omnipresent.

The When element is another that seems fairly obvious: when do you want to open up VoC channels? NOW! But you also want to think down the road, to new product rollouts, site additions, or other special events. These are great opportunities to collect feedback from your users; when you stir the pot, you want to be there to see what’s bubbling up! Don’t just “fit it and forget it”, allowing your feedback link to become the equivalent of that dusty old wooden “comments” box screwed into the wall. Look ahead for opportunities to keep things fresh and proactive!

Where are your users on your site when you ask for their feedback? Someone trying to pay a bill or buy something from a store is in a “getting stuff done” mode and might not be willing to answer a bunch of questions, but may be happy to leave a comment or give a general assessment of their experience. Someone perusing your information pages may be in a more contemplative mood, and more amenable to having their brain picked in a little more depth.

Lastly, of course, Why are you doing this? How are you going to use the data that you collect? Think about who needs to get the data you’re receiving and how they’ll get it. Will you send alerts to them as comments roll in, or will there be a gatekeeper who collates and distributes the information manually? Each approach has its benefits, and you should talk to your Client Experience manager to make sure that once you’ve collected all that great data that you’re best able to use it.

So go on out there and gather your requirements. And just like Jimmy Olsen, know that if you ever get in over your head, OpinionLab is here to duck into a phone booth and save the day!


OpinionLab Holiday 2012 eCommerce Site Experience Findings

2012 has been a breakthrough year for omnichannel retail, as eCommerce has surged forward, while mobile commerce has finally achieved its mainstream breakthrough. Online retail sales are $29.3 billion this year, with mobile commerce growing by as much as 96% year over year in the holiday shopping period thus far.


But in the enormous volume of published data speaking to the phenomenal rise of mobile and eCommerce, one factor has been conspicuously absent: the Voice of the Customer. OpinionLab’s Holiday 2012 Site Opinion Findings analyze real-time shopper feedback across leading North American retail and eCommerce websites. The findings tell the story of an industry in transition and spotlight the increasing importance of mobile in guiding and structuring shopper behavior.

The Holiday 2012 Site Opinion Findings highlight the emerging impact of mobile commerce and shed some dramatic light on usage of smartphones and tablets in the online buying process. Prior to 2012, mobile devices were largely used for informational “snacking”—the consumption of short bits of information, such as product ratings, pricing comparisons, or user-generated reviews, often in conjunction with showrooming activity.

OpinionLab’s findings suggest, however, that Holiday 2012 shoppers eagerly embraced mobile devices as standalone purchasing platforms. When visiting an e-tailer’s mobile website, 42% of smartphone users indicated that their intent was to buy a product. Among tablet users, a still impressive 34% of shoppers expressed intent to buy a product during the course of their visit.  Conversely, researching, browsing, pricing comparisons, and other pre-buying activities were largely confined to desktop and notebook sessions.

This is compelling evidence that shoppers are searching for frictionless mobile and eCommerce experiences, which will allow them to convert at the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen. But omnichannel retailers have a long way to go to fully realize the potential of the mobile channel. Despite the surge in mobile commerce activity this holiday season, shopper satisfaction on mobile devices was still significantly lower than on the desktop or notebook. Shoppers who bought on their smartphones posted a Site Opinion Rating of only 2.49, while shoppers who made purchases on their tablets posted an even less impressive Rating of 2.39. Much was made of the role of iPad in driving mobile sales this holiday season, but the Site Opinion Rating for tablet-using buyers was a stunning 32% lower than the overall Site Opinion Rating for all online shoppers (3.51).

In their rush to deploy mobile commerce strategies, omnichannel retailers need to increase their focus on the shopper experience. Mobile sites that require tablet users to excessively pinch, squeeze, zoom, and swipe to make a purchase are unlikely to drive higher satisfaction, loyalty, or basket value. Conversely, retailers that offer in-app purchasing on their iOS or Android apps must ensure that product selection and pricing match up with what the shopper sees in store, or they risk alienating their customers and drive them into the waiting arms of Amazon or another competitor.

Yet omnichannel retailers can draw comfort from the fact that channel performance evolves quickly, and this will certainly be the case with mobile. The Holiday 2012 Site Opinion Findings demonstrate just how far eCommerce in general has come in the past few years. Across all eCommerce sites, Site Experience Ratings surged dramatically on the biggest online shopping days. To cite two especially impressive examples, Site Opinion Rating rose to a peak of 3.88 on Cyber Monday and almost matched that high with a 3.86 rating on Green Monday. Both of these ratings were more than 10% higher than the average Site Opinion Rating during the holiday shopping period.

This speaks volumes about the increasing effectiveness and responsiveness of eCommerce sites. For many years, Cyber Monday was a day of horror stories, filled with heart-wrenching accounts of crashing websites, technical glitches, unfulfilled orders, and out-of-stock products. E-tailers have clearly made significant strides in executing on their technical, merchandising, and promotional promises. As shoppers make the historic transition to mobile, tuning into the Voice of the Customer will help omnichannel retailers avoid the eCommerce learning curve and deploy strategies to deliver remarkable mobile buying experiences in the months and years to come.

Research Note:
OpinionLab analyzed Voice of Customer feedback from over 43,000 real online shoppers from November 1 through December 11. Responses were gathered using OpinionLab’s patented opt-in research methodology, while satisfaction and experience scores were computed using OpinionLab’s proprietary Site Opinion Rating system, which is weighted to reflect the key drivers of satisfaction, loyalty, and repurchase intent in the eCommerce and retail industries.



thanksgiving 2012: the coming out party for the omnichannel retail customer

I spent Black Friday from the safety of my car, providing the official drop off and pick up duties for my family. Mind you, there is a whole list of stress factors that accompany that role, but from my vantage point, I was able to view the crowds that packed our local mall. What I was not able to view, however, were the even bigger hordes that stayed away from the stores on Black Friday, and instead saved their holiday shopping dollars for Cyber Monday. And lurking somewhere in these masses of shoppers were the folks who did both: the ones who waited in line on Black Friday and then saved some extra to splurge online on Cyber Monday.

Retailers are staring into their Magic 8 balls and seeing an entire industry in transition, as web and mobile arise, while brick-and-mortar stagnates. In-store retail sales on Black Friday actually decreased by 1.8%, while online sales on Cyber Monday surged ahead by 30.3%. In fact, 58% of Cyber Monday shoppers indicated that they planned to spend more money on Cyber Monday than Black Friday. Smartphones are playing a key role in disrupting traditional holiday shopping patterns. Deloitte estimates that by 2016, mobile could influence as many as 34% of in-store retail sales. Already, this Cyber Monday saw sales on mobile devices accounting for about 13% of all online sales (check out this amazing IBM Benchmark on Cyber Monday which literally made my day).

Retailers, meet the new omnichannel shopper. 2012 was the year when omnichannel became a de facto part of the retail lexicon. It doesn’t matter whether they are buying online, researching online for an in-store purchase, or showrooming in-store for an online purchase, shoppers expect the entire customer journey to be seamless or they will spend their money elsewhere. Store, site, mobile, social—these are all fusing into the omnichannel battleground of 21st century retail. Single-channel giants will fall into irrelevance and die out, while new multi-channel titans will assume their places in the hearts and minds of customers.

Unfortunately, omnichannel has not been so quick to permeate retail Voice of Customer programs. Too many retail operators are taking a very ’90s approach to customer feedback (sans the flannel wear and Nirvana tapes, mind you). They are leaning on antiquated methodologies, silo’ed databases, and single-channel programs to measure the experiences of shoppers who are far more nimble, far more fickle, and far more vocal than they were 10 years ago.

Hopefully, Thanksgiving 2012 will be a wake-up call for retailers. Omnichannel shoppers deserve omnichannel Voice of Customer programs that can capture their voices anytime, anywhere and mesh the insights together to paint a truly comprehensive portrait of this new breed of shopper. Retailers who clue into this will have very jolly Christmases indeed. Those who don’t will find a whole lot more Grinches in their company when the new year begins.



customer feedback with customer experience visibility

In a series of guest bloggers, this week we feature a piece from Ronit Belson, VP Marketing and Business Development for Cloudmeter. Ronit, a highly accomplished senior executive with over 15 years of experience, joined Cloudmeter in May of 2012 and drives Cloudmeter’s customer-focused approach that leverages the company’s highly accomplished technologists for customers’ benefits and company growth. With a background in end-user testing and monitoring, corporate and business development, Ronit is responsible for all facets of marketing, BD and sales for Cloudmeter. 

Cloudmeter and OpinionLab have partnered together to reveal a complete picture of the user experience–seamlessly integrated real-time VoC data within analytics reporting systems that reveals an actionable and deeper understanding of consumer opinions.

In the last few weeks, the retail industry was gearing up heavily for Black Friday and Cyber Monday– but were they prepared? In today’s world of multi-channel options (websites, mobile apps, and in-store just to name a few), round-the-clock customer service expectations and fierce competition for every single holiday season dollar spent, today’s retailers need to do more. A single bad user experience can cause irreparable damage to a company’s brand image, not to mention the negative impact on revenue.

At Cloudmeter, we’re excited to join forces with OpinionLab to take valuable customer insights one step further with Pion Replay. Our integration with OpinionLab’s feedback anytime, anywhere solutions let you capture customer feedback collected through surveys and take action to avoid potential disasters by quickly seeing and understanding customer experience problems through the eyes of your customer.

Do you know if your customers had a positive user experience? What other products did they look at before selecting this one? Was a coupon used? Did the coupon code work? Was the order completed? And if not, what happened during the session to cause the customer to send negative feedback?

Pion Replay enables you to visualize your users’ sessions as they experienced it, and replay their step-by-step interactions with your website, mobile device or even your product. When users fill out web site experience surveys with exceedingly positive or negative feedback, you can rewind the tape of their visit to experience their session through their eyes.

This powerful combination allows you to add context and dimension to the quantitative feedback you receive instantly from OpinionLab comment cards. Instead of blindly guessing what happened to cause the negative user experience, Pion Replay gives customer service a view into the buying process, as the user experienced it, in a non-intrusive way. Customer support can then accurately pinpoint performance issues and efficiently solve them before any damage is done. And that leads to diagnosed site problems with the qualitative view of the experience.

Whether you’re a retailer going into your busiest season of the year or simply striving for excellent customer service, supporting your customers requires a complete view into your customers’ experiences. With Cloudmeter and OpinionLab, you can reap the benefits of both Voice of Customer feedback and Customer Experience Replay for a full picture of what’s happening to better understand your customers they interact with your brand.


Back in the saddle again

This is my kickoff post as a member of the OpinionLab team. I would be stupid not to cherish this moment. This is the kind of post you look back on years later and say, “Man I remember those days…everything was so new and exciting. Goals were big, ambitions were bigger, but the passion and boldness were irrepressible.”

And so, I’m back in the saddle again. Back to the space I love, looking at the landscape and seeing so much change and evolution, and yet so much stagnation at the same time. Sure, the change has been immense: just look at the rise of mobile, social, and location, and how these three factors have combined to completely obliterate the distinction between channels and turn the store and site into but two facets of a gigantic omnichannel customer engagement machine. As the predominance of omnichannel increases, so does the need for cogent omnichannel VoC strategies. Enter progressive vendors like OpinionLab, among the very few who truly “get” that the rules have changed and who have taken the ballsy step of hardwiring said rules into their corporate DNA.

And yet, so much stagnation. In many ways, VoC is still immature, fledgling. It’s on the cusp of mainstream now, and yet so many enterprise VoC programs are simplistic and devoid of concrete value. The same objections are proffered: lack of C-suite buy in, lack of actionability, lack of execution, and a lack of ROI. Don’t believe me? Consider the following nugget from Gartner: by 2015, 50% of the Fortune 1000 will have a VoC strategy in place (see? Mainstream), but only 10% will have executed upon it. VoC is a bit like Pinterest: everybody wants to be doing it, but once they start, they’re clueless about how to really make it work.

But if one vendor has the blueprint for success, it’s OpinionLab. There are just so many things about this company that impress me. Indulge me for a bit as I list a few of them:

  • [+] is to feedback what the “like” button is to brand endorsement. Finally, VoC has a universal signifier! One iconic symbol that is a promise to customers that their voices matter, that their opinions will no longer be lost in the shuffle.
  • OpinionLab gets omnichannel. No faking it here. Feedback anytime, anywhere is not just a promise, it’s a way of life for OpinionLab’s customers; it’s a sign that there’s no longer just a site, in-store, product or mobile experience– there is only a CUSTOMER experience, irrespective of where and how it happens.
  • The world’s best brands buy into it. There is credibility in spades. OpinionLab has been thrilling the likes of WalMart, USA Today, Best Buy, Ford, and Bank of America for more than a decade. And yet….
  • Despite their successes, OpinionLab still has the swagger, iconoclasm, and disruptiveness of a startup. Credit the executive team here: OpinionLab became one of the hottest tech companies in the Midwest because of its unique blend of talent, vision, and experience.

And so for those reason (and many, many more), I’m super stoked to get back in the game and work with Jonathan and his amazing team to rock our marketing efforts and drive them to stratospheric heights!

Related posts: who is OpinionLab

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