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By Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations
This article is by Featured Blogger Shep Hyken from his LinkedIn page. Republished with the author’s permission.
There is no doubt that creating a better customer experience translates into revenue. There are many factors that play into the customer experience, including customer service (that’s a big one), packaging, marketing and sales messages, in-store lighting and music, the online experience, and more.
I had a chance to spend some time with Pete Koomen, cofounder and CTO of Optimizely, who shared another perspective on creating a better customer experience through customization. Optimizely is a company that specializes in running tests to personalize websites, mobile applications and online campaigns. They help their customers use this data to provide the absolute best customer experience a company can provide, at virtually every touchpoint.
How do you know if you are providing the best possible experience? Perhaps you are providing a new website and experience a sales increase. But, what if it could be improved? How would you go about doing it? Optimizely steps in and helps create A/B tests – or a choice of one thing over another – to help determine what’s working best. It uses the data to determine the optimal experience for the customer. For example, a color image may be found to have better results than a black-and-white image on the front page of your website – or vice-versa. Or, the size of the image, bigger or smaller, may increase the result. It can be any type of choice between “this or that.”
While Koomen was at Google, he met his partner, Dan Siroker. Siroker left Google in 2008 to work on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as the director of analytics, which involved optimizing then-Senator Obama’s website to raise money and enlist volunteers. Siroker, along with a small team of engineers, ran test after test to improve the performance of BarackObama.com. They analyzed images, text size, wording and more. Which image was better or the front page of the website? A picture of Sen. Obama with his family or a photo of the candidate by himself? Everything was tested, analyzed and tweaked. Ultimately, the fundraising effort shattered previous records. After the campaign, Siroker and Koomen reconnected to start Optimizely, which applies the same methods in the corporate world and now has companies that range from start-ups to Fortune 500-size organizations.
Koomen shared a couple of great examples.
One of Optimizely’s clients is the Trunk Club. In short, it is a personalized shopping (clothing) service. While it has several locations around the U.S., which are referred to as “clubhouses,” it does a tremendous amount of business online. When you visit the website, you create a fashion profile that includes your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc. Your profile is then assigned to a personal stylist to put together a virtual trunk filled with clothing that includes shirts, pants, shorts, socks, ties, shoes and more. The trunk (box) is then mailed to you, and you keep what you like and send back what you don’t.
Part of their testing included experimenting with shorter or longer profile applications. What they found was that more people filled out the more detailed/longer profile. The increase was 130%. This proved that the longer profile, which took more time, created a higher confidence level in the company, which turned into a stronger response.
Another area they tested was the timing of payment using the Trunk Club mobile app. With the old process, prior to testing, the customer filled out the profile, was assigned a stylist and the stylist went to work. After making suggestions, the customer gave his or her credit card information. As an experiment, or test, it was recommended that Trunk Club ask for the credit card information as part of the profile, before the stylist went to the effort of filling the virtual trunk with clothes. According to Koomen, the result was a 43% increase in sales.
Another client, The Clymb, which specializes in outdoor equipment and apparel, had success when it personalized the customer experience based on what Koomen refers to as an “audience.” These are specific communities within the company’s overall customer list. The Clymb’s customers are categorized into communities that include climbers, runners, bikers, etc. They can be segmented even further based on brands they have bought in the past. For example, customers who bought Oakley eyewear (glasses) were categorized as a specific audience. When any of these customers visited the company’s website again, the first thing they saw was an Oakley promotion. This increased Oakley sales by 12%.
This may just seem like a clever sales tactic, but at the same time, you’re putting what customers like and want right in front of them. That’s sales and a better customer experience. We want our customers to have the best experience, and many times that is based on them sensing a better connection to us because we have and know what they want.
Koomen has some suggestions about what to consider when starting a testing program.
Start with the average or overall best experience, then begin segmenting. You can segment your customers into many types of audiences, including male and female, age groups, geographical locations, past purchases, dollar amount of past purchases, preferred brands – anything an audience has in common.
Once you define the audiences, test within these individual groups.
The goal is to create the best individual experience. With the capability to test and collect relevant data, you have no excuse not to offer a better, more personalized experience. It may actually be a disservice not to take advantage of testing and personalization to improve the customer’s experience.
Originally published on Forbes.com