Customer Experiences Need Work Across Channels

Earlier this year, we published a report called Best And Worst Of Cross-Channel Design, 2009 that examined results from our expert review of 16 companies across four industries: Online travel agencies, auto insurers, footwear manufacturers, and discount retailers. We examined scenarios that included interactions online, with call centers, via email, and through IVR systems. The evaluations also looked at transitions across channels.

Here are the overall results from that analysis.

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As you can see, none of the 16 firms ended up with a passing score. Here were the highest scoring firm in each area:

  • Web site: Expedia
  • IVR: Nike
  • Phone agents: Orbitz and priceline.com
  • Email: Nike
  • Channel transitions: Expedia, Geico, and New Balance 

The cross-channel reviews graded experience across 57 criteria. More than 12 of the 16 companies failed these nine criteria:

  • Is text legible? (Web Site)
  • Is the task flow efficient (Web Site)
  • Is essential content available where needed? (Web Site)
  • Can the user complete her goals in all required channels? (Channel Transitions)
  • Are keyword-based searches comprehensive and precise? (Web Site)
  • Does the system provide essential content? (IVR)
  • Does the site help users avoid and recover from errors? (Web Site)
  • Does the site present privacy and security policies in context? (Web Site)
  • Do menu categories immediately expose or describe their subcategories? (Web Site)

The bottom line: There’s a lot of room for improvement

The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q3 2008

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) just released its Q3 2008 report that covers the following sectors: Apparel, athletic shoes, breweries, cigarettes, food manufacturing, personal care & cleaning products, pet food, and soft drinks. Here are some highlights of the new data:

Ratings Of Firms

  • Top rated: HJ Heinz
  • Top rated relative to industry average: HJ Heinz
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Colgate-Palmolive and Nike
  • Lowest rated: Nike, adidas, Levi Straus & Company
  • Lowest rated relative to industry average: The Iams Company, Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Largest decline (since last year): Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Ratings Of Industries

  • Top rated: Personal care & cleaning products
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Food manufacturing
  • Lowest rated: Cigarettes
  • Largest decline (since last year): Apparel

While it’s interesting to look at the data, I also like to read the commentary by Professor Claes Fornell who puts the customer satisfaction results in context of the overall economy. Here’s an excerpt from his Q3 2008 comments:

There is no meaningful pattern of past data to statistically forecast in an environment of great uncertainty and market volatility… When household resources are lacking, changes in customer satisfaction do not matter much for aggregate demand. At the micro level, on the other hand, it matters more. For individual companies, now is the time to hold on to present customers. Making sure that they are satisfied usually provides some degree of insulation from competitive challenges and price wars, as the challenger must be able to provide better value than the incumbent – and, depending on the risk the buyer takes in switching suppliers, sometimes significantly so.

The bottom line: Recession => Retention is critical => Customer Experience is critical!

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